The negligent promotion of nuclear panic

New York Daily News - March 16th, 2011

It pains me to see large parts of the media still hyperventilating over the very modest amounts of radioactive material coming from the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the east coast of Japan.

Nothing has been made more plain that most journalists and editors have no ability to evaluate risk, especially when it comes to radioactive measurements in very unfamiliar units (millisieverts anyone?). Everything they appear to know about radioactivity appears to come from poorly understood science reports and 1950s era B-movies.

You wouldn’t know from the coverage that that very same reactor survived a truly massive earthquake and a towering tsunami with barely a scratch even though it was built around 40 years ago in the expectation of surviving much lesser events.

You wouldn’t know that Japanese people are struggling to survive in the bitter cold, while coming to terms with the loss of family members, friends and entire neighbourhoods. You won’t hear that some survivors are being housed in other nuclear plants, everything else having been washed away.

Witness the BBC reporting today:

Japan nuclear plant: Radioactivity rises in sea nearby

The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the Japanese government has tried to reassure people about the plant’s safety

Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit, officials say.

The readings were taken about 300m (984ft) offshore. It is feared the radiation could be seeping into groundwater from one of the reactors.

But the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days, officials say.

There are areas of radioactive water in four of the reactors at the plant, and two workers are in hospital.

The plant’s operator says the core of one of the six reactors may have been damaged.

It has announced that fresh water rather than seawater will now be used to cool the damaged reactors, in the hope that this will be more effective.

Why eight days? Because that’s the half-life of radioactive iodine. But that’s not what you find out from the BBC.

What of those two workers in hospital? Sounds serious doesn’t it?

Not all of the media are so poorly informed. The Register’s Louis Page has produced some well-researched articles which go a long way to explaining what is really happening:

The situation at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan was brought under control days ago. It remains the case as this is written that there have been no measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant or anybody else, and all indications are that this will remain the case. And yet media outlets around the world continue with desperate, increasingly hysterical and unscrupulous attempts to frame the situation as a crisis.

Here’s a roundup of the latest facts, accompanied by highlights of the most egregious misreporting.

First up, three technicians working to restore electrical power in the plant’s No 3 reactor building stood in some water while doing so. Their personal dosimetry equipment later showed that they had sustained radiation doses up to 170 millisievert. Under normal rules when dealing with nuclear powerplant incidents, workers at the site are permitted to sustain up to 250 millisievert before being withdrawn. If necessary, this can be extended to 500 millisievert according to World Health Organisation guidance.

None of this involves significant health hazards: actual radiation sickness is not normally seen until a dose of 1,000 millisievert and is not common until 2,000. Additional cancer risk is tiny: huge numbers of people must be subjected to such doses in order to see any measurable health consequences. In decades to come, future investigators will almost certainly be unable to attribute any cases of cancer to service at Fukushima.

Nonetheless, in the hyper-cautious nuclear industry, any dose over 100 millisievert is likely to cause bosses to pull people out at least temporarily. Furthermore, the three workers had sustained slight burns to their legs as a result of standing in the radioactive water – much as one will burn one’s skin by exposing it to the rays of the sun (a tremendously powerful nuclear furnace). They didn’t even notice these burns until after completing their work. Just to be sure, however, the three were sent for medical checks.

So – basically nothing happened. Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn. But this was reported around the globe as front-page news under headlines such as “Japanese Workers Hospitalized for Excessive Radiation Exposure”. Just to reiterate: it was not excessive.

The entire article is well worth reading

But panic sells (as readers of WUWT are well aware), and sober analysis of scientific fact is nowhere near as exciting or is likely to spread like wildfire across the Internet.

No-one will die from radiation from Fukushima. No-one will mutate or develop super-powers. Godzilla will not rise from the sea and destroy Tokyo, except in cinemas.

It’s my view that the world deserves better than this. The real plight of the Japanese survivors of the earthquake and tsunami is being forgotten in the service of a bizarre fear about radiation that is more science fiction than science fact.

About these ads

288 thoughts on “The negligent promotion of nuclear panic

  1. Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    Even if one comes to believe that is normal and healthy to get irradiated when things go wrong, the nuke power is still not viable for economic reasons. It is much more expensive than coal for power generation.

    Why not fall back on coal? Is it because continuing CO2 emissions will bring about a climate catastrophe?

  2. The burns were, according to one semi-hysterical report, due to “beta radiation”. For the folks at home, that’s electrons. Mild electrical burns, sort of. A soothing salve is recommended.

  3. One of the more amusing falsities i read (in German as well as in English language media) was that the Fukushima reactor damaged was a hundred times more powerful than the one at Chernobyl…

  4. Anthony, you and me both….

    The “news” has just made me sick, not one word about the real tragedy – the people!
    Their lives have been completely destroyed.

  5. I thought 400miliseverts was the low reading before poisoning started? 1000-2000 seems high? Really high, like dead?

  6. I’m intrigued that neither the media, the Japanese regulatory folks,
    or TEPCO are not reporting on the uranium or uranium/plutonium
    decay product isotope sister of iodine and cesium: Strontium 90.

    It has a half life of 28.8 years.

    All three are products of fission reaction in nuclear power generation.

    According to Wikipedia:

    It [Strontium 90] is present in significant amount in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors…”

    See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strontium-90

  7. sHx says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    “Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    Even if one comes to believe that is normal and healthy to get irradiated when things go wrong, the nuke power is still not viable for economic reasons. It is much more expensive than coal for power generation.

    Why not fall back on coal? Is it because continuing CO2 emissions will bring about a climate catastrophe?”

    sHx, here in Germany, tomorrow (on Sunday – technically that is today as it’s 4 a.m. here) the Greens will probably get into a government coalition in Badem-Württemberg, probably with 25% of the votes, stronger than the oldest socialist party, the SPD. Think Australia only much, much worse. They used the Fukushima affair to get this high.

    Now, they might manage to get about 3 or 4 nukes in BW switched off, no big deal, that’s at most 4 GW. But, you know, the thing is that they have opposed all new coal-fired plants in the past as well and might well start to go after the existing ones once they finished off the nukes. They are, after all, not only anti-nuclear, but they are also the ones who sent the Greenshirt delegations to COP15. Coal provides 40% of our electricity.

    So, at least in Germany, the movement against nuclear power is also against coal power. Where does that leave an industrialized nation? In the dark. Earth Hour year round. (Yes, we will have electricity from time to time. Not necessarily when we need it, though – wind and solar.)

    The tactics these people use are never based on informing the public but on fear-mongering. Nuclear Power = deadly radiation; Coal Power = deadly AGW. So, it’s the same fight and the same enemy.

  8. I still get the Chicago Sun-Times delivered every day.
    Todays headline:

    “VERY GRAVE” NUKE CRISIS IN JAPAN (in huge type).
    Radioactive contamination may be worse than first thought at devastated nuclear plant (in smaller type).

    Some selected excerpts:
    “A possible breach”
    “Two workers suffered skin burns after wading into water 10,000 times more radioactive than levels normally found in water in or near a reactor”

    The article plays up the breach angle, with ground water contamination a possible result.
    Circulation of the newspaper is about 250,000 on a Saturday.

  9. @ sHx:
    CO2 aside, coal power is dirty. There is SO2, NOx, etc. All this is expensive to clean. Most of the coal plants have minimal pollution controls for this stuff. As such, they operate under EPA granfathering. Many are being sued for violating new source review requirements because they upgraded without adding best available scrubbing technology.

    And, then there is Hg. It may not be possible to get the level of Hg emitted by coal plants down to what the EPA deems safe. Meaning there is no way to license a new coal plant, especially under the current EPA.

    And, the Chinese don’t give a rats arse about SO2, NOx, Hg, etc. So, every nuclear plant they build means we all get to breathe a little easier in the rest of the world. And they are building them by the boatload, as many as 50-100 planned for the next 10 years. Try telling them they are uneconomical.

  10. Media: If it bleeds it leads.
    Politician/Savior : More fear = more votes

    Connect the dots.

  11. @R.S.Brown

    Where have we seen mention of Strontium-90? Oh yeah, all our lives we’ve heard of it being left over from all the above ground nuclear weapons testing. We’re probably not hearing a lot about Sr-90 because any new traces of it that might come from the Fukishima reactors are indistinguisable from the background leftover from above ground nuclear weapons testing.

    Given, there is a lot more radioactivity in a nuclear reactor core than is produced by a nuclear weapon detonation. On the other hand, even after the worst imaginable scenario, 99.999%, plus, of that radioactivity is going to still be in or near that reactor core. But, a nuclear weapon is an extremely efficient way of dispersing the radioactivity it generates. Given those two extremes, I’m not sure it is even possible for this accident to approach the levels of fallout I, and billions or others, lived through as a child, and all my life since.

  12. @DirkH
    “The tactics these people use are never based on informing the public but on fear-mongering. Nuclear Power = deadly radiation; Coal Power = deadly AGW. So, it’s the same fight and the same enemy”

    Bearing in mind that the average green dislikes people anyway.
    Anything will do to scare people, being in the dark is not going to bother them, they’ll have power. The same way “we” are not allowed to use aircraft for holidays, but they can use them for all their international “save-the-planet” “jolidays”

  13. @Simcoe surfer

    What can we say? You thought wrong. 1000 to 2000 is not likely to be fatal. You might be getting milliseverts and Rem mixed up. 1000 Rem would have a good chance of being fatal. But, 1000 Rem is 10,000 milliseverts.

  14. The reporting on the tsunami in Japan and problems at the nuclear reactor achieved a crescendo of hysteria on the first day and that crescendo continues today. No one has suffered harm from radiation from the facility. There has been no radiation danger from the facility. The facts have contradicted the hysteria from day one. The author of this guest post, JohnA, suggests that the motivation is financial:

    “But panic sells (as readers of WUWT are well aware), and sober analysis of scientific fact is nowhere near as exciting or is likely to spread like wildfire across the Internet.”

    If that is the case then all of the MSM are now no better than the National Enquirer. If that is true then it is a national tragedy. Maybe the silver lining is that all of the MSM will soon be treated by the public as no better than the National Enquirer.

    My fear is that all of the MSM have jumped on the anti-nuclear bandwagon. I believe that we have seen a campaign, maybe not orchestrated, against nuclear power. Everyone knows that the Greens have the power to create such a campaign. We know it because they have done exactly that with Global Warming for decades.

    There is no clear long term strategy for dealing with such a cultural disaster. For the short run, make sure your US representatives and senators hear from you that you want them to support the vote occurring Tuesday that will remove from the EPA the power to regulate CO2.

  15. @DirkH

    Perhaps the true aim of the greens is to get Germany switched over to natural gas controlled by Russia.? It would warm the heart of any green I can think of to have the Germans living as slaves of the Russians.

  16. I’m intrigued that neither the media, the Japanese regulatory folks,
    or TEPCO are not reporting on the uranium or uranium/plutonium
    decay product isotope sister of iodine and cesium: Strontium 90.

    Because we haven’t seen massive core melt down yet. Strontium isn’t volatile, it isn’t present in the fuel rods gap.

  17. A fine Article John. I will add a link to it on my Fukushima info page. Only rational articles are linked there, and yours is certainly rational if not eloquent. I also wonder how the intensely noble and deeply principled Japanese people feel about being used to sell advertising at the increasingly hysterical CNN? (etc) Wolf Blitzenkopf gets even more incoherent when Fukushima is howled about discussed.

    Cheers!

  18. Dirk
    The greens are a bit mad in Germany. I saw the EU report on BBC News, and they were having a debate on the nuclear plants in Germany. Both German guests, some greenie woman and a social democrat guy were against these plants.

    The entire exchange was hilarious, with the German guy turning a full 180 into wantingto be rid of these plants, which cynically was tied to the fact Merkel decided she won’t win without attacking nuclear power. But the Green woman was completly off her nut. She attacked Poland for exploring shale gas and nuclear power in order to get off reliance on coal (which happens to be low grade) and russian gas. She expects a poorer country like Poland to go into renewables – wind farms.

    Which brings me to the next wonderful thing, a question was asked how these guests would suggest their own countries reduce CO2 and not use nuclear power. The Greenie wants it supplied by wind farms and biofuel. Now, wind farms will never produce enough electricity to replace so many coal and nuclear plants, so she expects most of it to come from biofuels.

    Although the comedy award goes to the other german who has plans for a north africa solar panel farm.

  19. sHx says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    “Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?”

    No one is advocating nuclear power. We just do not want to demonize it. There is a place for all of our energy technologies. Nuclear power might not qualify for the top of the list right now. But the MSM is doing its best to remove it from the list entirely. On the other hand, France seems to be doing very well with nuclear power. Someone should tell the MSM. Our view of energy technologies can change very rapidly and might have changed greatly in five or ten years.

  20. sHx says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    For the same reasons non-skeptics do: (1) reliable power output (as contrasted with wind, solar, etc.); (2) no need for long trains of coal (Hansen’s “trains of death”) to be delivered; (3) no enormous masses of ash that must be neutralized and buried; (4) no fly ash causing asthma in vulnerable populations; (5) no acid rain; and many more.

    The Peoples’ Republic of Oregon is an interesting study in contrasts. In the latter part of the 1970s, there was a very cold winter with very little precipitation in the Columbia River basin. If the Bonneville Power Administration had to run the dams on Columbia flat out, in order to provide power to keep people from freezing, the river level would have dropped so low that barge traffic on the river would have had to be halted. That would strand farmers’ grain up-river and prevent it from being delivered to customers who had already paid for it. Fortunately, the Trojan Nuclear Plant (45 miles downriver from Portland) was quietly humming away, producing a continuous 1.1 million kilowatts. Because of nuclear power, the reservoirs remained at optimum levels, people were able to keep warm, and businesses didn’t have to shut down.

    Contrast that with today, when PGE, the company that owned the Trojan plant, is generating much of its electricity from coal in a plant at Boardman, 160 miles upriver from Portland. The Boardman plant generates about half the power that the Trojan plant did, and creates a great deal more pollution.

    On balance, the use of nuclear power is better stewardship of the earth than burning coal.

  21. “Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?”
    Nuclear energy is economcally viable under rational regulations.
    Not today, especially in the USA.
    It’s a good hedge against the volitile oil market in places where shale gas is not available. France has done very well with it.
    Once this crisis calms, and the death toll from radiation never rises above zero, you can bet that Japan will continue to use it too. They will likely modernize the plants though.
    Nuclear is good “base load” generator IMHO.

  22. The Fukushima situation is a disaster and no one should think otherwise.
    The plant is still deteriorating and still emitting, according to Austrian monitors
    ( http://www.zamg.ac.at/aktuell/index.php?seite=1&artikel=ZAMG_2011-03-26GMT09:11 )
    about 10**17 bequerels/day of iodine 131 and 10**16th of cesium 137.
    These are about 10% of Chernobyls aggregate emissions daily and there is no indication it will stop soon.
    NHK has just reported finding reactor water so radioactive that the dose from it would be 1 sievert/hr, where 5 sieverts is about the 50% lethal dose.
    It is clear that TEPCO, the plant operator, has no idea of what to do and is essentially just doing the equivalent of painting the living room while the house is burning.
    Given that there are about 1800 tons of nuclear fuel at the site, spread among 6 reactors and 7 storage pools, versus about 190 tons in the Chernobyl reactor that exploded, the fear of a massive disaster is not unreasonable, especially as we have no idea about the status of four of the pools.

  23. The issue noted above and the radiation misinformation that is being promoted as something dangerous are the points of this article. The pain is there and the panic created by many media radiation illiterates is a terrible misdirection of our energy from the reality of these survivors and their difficult struggle.

    Thanks John A for caring about what is important.

    Bernie

  24. And unfortunately this biased reporting influences politicians. In the UK, a well respected politician, Paddy Ashdown, has declared that he will no longer support the construction of new reactors in the UK.

    However, he has not explained how he wants to keep the lights on and the economy running in the future. He made vague references to renewables and to clean coal. Has he done the calculations, that demonstrate that even if you saturate the UK with windelecs, you could perhaps cover 30% of our energy demand, but still be left in total darkness if the wind dies for more than a day? Has he read about Lake Nyos, and the catastrophic effects of a CO2 blowout from these new CO2 reservoirs?

    If we are not careful, the Biased Broadcasting Corporation and its numpty correspondents and executives will take us back to the Stone Age …. Silly me, that’s what they want, isn’t it…

    .

  25. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2014574301_apeugermanyabandoningnuclearpower.html

    (bold added)

    Originally published Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 5:12 AM
    Germany set to abandon nuclear power for good

    Germany is determined to show the world how abandoning nuclear energy can be done.

    The world’s fourth-largest economy stands alone among leading industrialized nations in its decision to stop using nuclear energy because of its inherent risks. It is betting billions on expanding the use of renewable energy to meet power demands instead.

    The transition was supposed to happen slowly over the next 25 years, but is now being accelerated in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster, which Chancellor Angela Merkel has called a “catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions.”

    Germany currently gets 23 percent of its energy from nuclear power – about as much as the U.S. Its ambitious plan to shut down its reactors will require at least euro150 billion ($210 billion) investment in alternative energy sources, which experts say will likely lead to higher electricity prices.

    The government has been vague on a total price tag for the transition, but it said last year about euro20 billion ($28 billion) a year will be needed, acknowledging that euro75 billion ($107 billion) alone will be required through 2030 to install offshore wind farms.

    The president of Germany’s Renewable Energy Association, Dietmar Schuetz, said the government should create a more favorable regulatory environment to help in bringing forward some euro150 billion investment in alternative energy sources this decade by businesses and homeowners.

    Last year, German investment in renewable energy topped euro26 billion ($37 billion) and secured 370,000 jobs, the government said.

    But Schuetz insists that “we can replace nuclear energy even before 2020 with renewable energies, producing affordable and ecologically sound electricity.”

    But someone will have to foot the bill.

    “Consumers must be prepared for significantly higher electricity prices in the future,” said Wolfgang Franz, head of the government’s independent economic advisory body. Merkel last week also warned that tougher safety rules for the remaining nuclear power plants “would certainly mean that electricity gets more expensive.”

    In Germany, the producers of renewable energy – be it solar panels on a homeowner’s rooftop or a farm of wind mills – are paid above-market prices to make sure their investment breaks even, financed by a 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour tax paid by all electricity customers.

    For a typical German family of four who pay about euro1,000 ($1,420) a year to use about 4,500 kilowatt-hours, the tax amounts to euro157 ($223).

    The tax produced euro8.2 billion ($11.7 billion) in Germany in 2010 and it is expected to top euro13.5 billion ($19.2 billion) this year. The program – which has been copied by other countries and several U.S. states such as California – is the backbone of the country’s transition toward renewable energies.

    Gee, it’s nice to see that Germany, which is arguably single-handedly keeping the entire EU out of bankruptcy, still has enough wealth that they can afford to be scared away from nuclear power and depend on the likes of offshore wind turbines, and the German citizens can afford to be further taxed for the privilege of having centrally-distributed electricity (reliable or otherwise). And as Germany’s Renewable Energy Association mentioned, it’ll help to have a “more favorable regulatory environment”, perhaps by mandating all alternative energy projects be guaranteed a reasonable profit instead of merely removing a normal incentive of capitalism by arranging higher producer prices so the investors don’t lose money. Oh, and look at all the jobs that they “secured” just last year!

    Yup, Germany must be doing very well indeed. This is cheering news!

  26. I live in the eastern outskirts of Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture. My house is 33 miles due west of the Fukushima nuclear plant(s), in a New Town area which is elevated from Koriyama city “ground level”, and the house sits on top of a steep slope at the rear, which eventually goes down to a steep wall and below are rice fields. SO it’s a nice view all round and a nice birds-eye view of the city itself.

    Basically, since the big quake 2 weeks ago, we’ve been “bugging in” at home, apart from that Friday night, where we stayed the night at the local community center because of a large crack in the ground all long the ground at the rear of the house and we were afraid the slope would give way and the house would end up in the rice fields down below. The house turned out to be okay thanks to 12 meter deep foundations embedding to rock below. The ground around the house, however, has compacted and sunk about 5cm, and there are interesting “tide marks” all around the house where the soil and concrete parking area just be be up to.

    As I’m a bit of a weather nerd I’ve been keeping tabs on the synoptic charts and wind directions for the last 2 weeks, and luckilly, the prevailing wind direction has been from the north and north-west, blowing any nuclear material away from the house/area – thanks to the usual winter pressure patterns around Japan at this time of the year.

    So I’ve been calculating that staying where I am has been inherently safer than bailing out to Tokyo, and so far this has been proven true – iodine-131 levels have been higher in the water supply south of the power plants than they have been where me and my wife are.

    But even though the iodine levels in Tokyo have been higher in tap water, they levels still aren’t particularly hazardous to health – I’d receive a much higher dose of radiation flying back to my native Scotland than I am staying put!

    Indeed, the western media have been in their usual Moronic Frenzy, all in the name of scaring everyone witless and selling more dead tree. It also seems that western governments are using the events in Japan to further some anti-nuclear cause, and of course media outlets such as the BBC are helping them along the way.

    I’ve had very a very good friend in the UK whom I consider to be very intelligent email me saying stuff like “Mate that’s not what the news sources here are telling me! Get your ass out of Japan now!!111!oneone”, which of course is ridiculous, and it appears even he is being taken in by the media frenzy.

    The UK and US governments aren’t helping by recommending any British or US citizen within 80km (I’m 54km away) of the power plant should leave the area or stay indoors. The 20km evacuation zone and the 20-30km “stay indoors” zones are perfectly adequate for this type of nuclear incident.

    Sure, I’m keeping an eye on how the containment process is progressing. And if – and only if – there’s a massive ejection of radioactive material from the plant due to some kind of fire or explosion, only then will we bail out of the house and head away from the area.

    For, it’s bugging in at home. Gasoline supply is not optimal at the moment – I have to wake up real early in the morning and head down to my usual gas station and collect a ticket at 6:30am, then return to the station later that day from 4-6pm, and we’re rationed to 3000 Yen worth of regular gas (works out at roughly 19.5 liters).

    So yes, it is tough here, has been pretty tough for the past 2 weeks, but not as tough as the coastal areas hit by the tsunami, and not as tough as some of your friends who lived in the nearby Tamura area who had to evacuate town.

    It is nice though to be able to read sane, concise, and honest reporting from the likes of The Register. At least there are some non-dumb people out there who get the real picture.

    Regards

    Kevin.

  27. John, thanks for a little honesty.

    A quotes from ttp://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html
    On the two workers:
    “While the patients did not require medical treatment …” but kept to observe.

    Anyone have some other honest sites to get the latest?

  28. Nuclear energy production could be the saving grace for the USA. Plentiful cheap power allows enterprise to express itself. Cheap power allows getting needed hard to get to petroleum into the economy. It may allow coal to liquids. But basically nuclear power could solve a lot of issues that other means of generation create.
    And you are right, the very least benefit of nuclear power is the worry of warmist.

    In todays America half the population despises all forms of energy production. (the other half despises the green energy facade ).
    The intrigue with bold endeavors has been replaced with wanting to preserve.
    Somehow burning dung for heat is preferable to mining a mountain range.
    Or even more displaced, demanding exotic minerals and petroleum from places that could give a rats rear what they run over to get it.

  29. sHx>

    If I can add one reason why we should advocate nuclear power in the long-term, it’s simply because it’s not an embarrassingly primitive technology. I mean, seriously, burning lumps of fossil wood to make steam to drive a steam engine to run a dynamo? Or controlling an invisible chain reaction in the nuclei of atoms which heats the working fluid?

    It’s like asking why flat screens are better than CRTs. They just are, ok :)

  30. At least in the USA and Australia, coal fired electricity generation is cost effective. Not so in France where coal is less abundant. The French generate ~80% of their electricity in Nuclear Power Plants.

    Norway is fortunate because it has enough hydro power to sustain most of its base load.

    My point is that each country uses the technology that is cost effective in their locality.

    In the long term we only have a few hundred years of coal reserves compared to tens of thousands of years of Uranium and Thorium. Absent a miracle based on fusion power, it is inevitable that nuclear fission will reign.

  31. Brian H:

    “The burns were, according to one semi-hysterical report, due to “beta radiation”. For the folks at home, that’s electrons. Mild electrical burns, sort of. A soothing salve is recommended”

    I’m all for trying to tone down the shrill hysteria, but not at the expense of truth. Beta particles are high energy elections expelled from a nucleus. Saying they cause “mild electrical burns” is like saying gamma radiation might cause a mild sunburn or upset tummy.

  32. No one say coal is better because it’s safer, cheaper, and creates more jobs. You’re just not educated if you do.

    Nuclear is more expensive, complex, dangerous, and takes jobs.

    There. Now all is right with the world.

    Nuclear not more dangerous you say? Spent fuel rods can be stored at your house then. Coz spent fuel rods are great and are part of great nuclear.

    Coal makes all the miners get black lung—at least that’s what some people want you to believe, right? Some have got black lung, it’s true. But if 1/100th of the money that has been put into developing nuclear had been put into developing a mask to protect from coal dust then no more black lung. But I’m not sophisticated in saying that.

    Fumes coming from burning coal is more dangerous than spent fuel rods? Unlikely. But let’s look at that too. If again another 1/100th, or let’s say 2/100ths, of the money spent in developing nuclear had gone into dealing with fumes from burning coal the pollution would have been reduced dramatically. Or am I wrong? I must be.

    Nuclear is great. There. Now I’m right. Now I’m smart.

  33. The whole thing is an utter disaster make no mistake, radiation might not be killing people but in the long run it destroys your DNA and gives you cancer, the worst of it is that it effectively cuts your genetic lineage as you’re much more likely to have deformed kids. But that’s just the health implications, what about the economic impacts – utter utter disaster for the Japanese , already counties around the world are banning food imports from Japan, what do you think that’ll do to the country? And it’s not over, not by a long short, if that containment vessel is damaged how are they going to cool the core without leakage? You realize it’s not like a fire where as the fuel is burned in a day it goes out, not this thing is just going to keep producing heat for months and months. That country is going to be paralysed with fear for months – fricken disaster for them!

  34. “Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn.”

    Oh, the humanity!!!!

  35. A few points for clarity. The half life of I-131 is ~8 days but it would take at least 5 half lives (40 days) for a majority of the I-131 to decay (3% of original activity).

    The mild burns from the contaminated water could occur at 170 mSv but it would be mild. To put this into perspective, when patients are in surgery for interventional radiology or cariology they try to keep any one area of the skin less than 1,000 mSv with a target of never exceeding 2,000 mSv.

    A whole body exposure of 1,000 mSv to 2,000 mSv is a very high exposure. For comparison 2,500 to 3,000 mSv is considered the lethal dose to 50% of the population within 30 days (without medical intervention). I would consider a whole body exposure of 500 mSv to be a very serious exposure. In the United States, a whole body exposure of 250 mSv is the upper limit allowed for life saving activities.

  36. Good web sites for details:
    World nuclear news
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org

    or the nuclear energy institute

    One can also view the press releases in English from the Tokyo Electric Power Company. They provide updates several times per day but do not explain the situation like the world nuclear news can.

  37. Kevin in Koriyama,

    Thanks for your post and best to you for hanging in there up in Koriyama. Here in Tokyo today the streets are full with people walking and on bikes and few people are wearing masks. Those that are wearing masks are for the most part doing so because of allergies (it’s pollen season here).

    I read today that some shipping companies are refusing to sail into Tokyo Bay because of radiation fears and are instead delivering cargo destined for Tokyo and Yokohama in the ports of Osaka and Kobe. This is the kind of behavior, if it goes on much longer, threatens to create a massive, unnecessary humanitarian crisis, behavior spawned and fanned by the irresponsible western press. I can tell you that Japanese people aware of the fear mongering over the Fukushima nuclear plants in the western media are very angry at this coverage.

  38. mike g says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    “… And, then there is Hg. It may not be possible to get the level of Hg emitted by coal plants down to what the EPA deems safe. Meaning there is no way to license a new coal plant, especially under the current EPA…”

    Yet they keep pushing us to have fragile little vials of Hg in our homes… CFLs.

  39. sHx says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    Even if one comes to believe that is normal and healthy to get irradiated when things go wrong, the nuke power is still not viable for economic reasons. It is much more expensive than coal for power generation.

    Why not fall back on coal? Is it because continuing CO2 emissions will bring about a climate catastrophe?

    Few people are saying it’s “normal and healthy to get irradiated” as if to discount that there is a real problem in Fukushima. Obviously there is a problem and to say it’s not serious is misleading. The point is that the level of irradiation has been drastically blown out of proportion and the situation in fact makes a very good case for nuclear power. The reactors survived a massive earthquake and a massive tsunami, both of which were far beyond the design parameters. That is rather incredible and speaks well about how robust the technology can be, and these are relatively old reactors.

    If you want to see for yourself the reason why we should not adopt large scale coal power, take a trip to China. I was in Guangzhou, Shanghai / Wuxi and Beijing last week and I can say that they were by far the most polluted cities I have ever been to, and I’ve been to almost 40 countries. Every morning when I woke up I had to wash the gunk out of my eyes and blow the soot out of my nose. This was my second trip to China and my colleagues there told me it was relatively clear and that it can get much worse. I would imagine that if there were studies of what the air quality is doing to the health of the Chinese people, they would likely make a very solid case for nuclear power.

  40. The last 10 years or so should have taught even the most oblivious observer that a nation’s media outfits really only care about their own domestic politics – to whatever extent they care about anything other than money.

    They are not genuinely concerned about the suffering of others elsewhere. If you give them a choice between promoting panic and their own political agenda at home, or helping someone shivering in ruins half way around the world – they’re going to pick the former as a matter of course.

    The European renewable energy crowd – or at least the nuttier elements – seem to be bent on some form of protracted suicide. On the one hand I hope for their own sake that the adults come back to the table and sort things out… but on the other hand, I’d personally benefit greatly if some place else served as the canary in the mineshaft.

  41. Anthony is correct that, thus far, the radiation exposure has been slight. However, Japan’s NHK English-language site is reporting radiation 10 million times higher than normal. CNN just 20 minutes ago reported the same.

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/27_12.html

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/27/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=Sbin

    The concern is that no water, which contains radioactive particles, should exist in the turbine building. The fact that it does exist there indicates the second line of defense, the reactor shell, and the last line of defense, the containment structure, has been breached due to fuel rod meltdown. No one knows when or how badly these were breached. Nor can we say that the breach is already as bad as it will get. Aftershocks from the main earthquake continue, and act like small hammers, beating away at an already weakened concrete and steel structure. Any meltdown material inside the reactor and containment structure can leak. Adding water at this point may make the situation worse. Increased pressure in the reactor, or containment, will likely increase the leakage rate.

    There is also a report that the ocean near the stricken plant has higher than normal levels of radiation. This also is an indication that something is leaking somewhere, and that is not good.

    I’m pulling for the Japanese workers and the engineers and management who are making the decisions. I’m hoping that the above is the worst news that we will read. I suspect, though, that the continuing aftershocks will worsen the breach or breaches and more and more radioactive material will seep out. When the radiation readings reach too high, no workers will be allowed in. And that is of grave concern.

    The following link shows an earthquake map of Japan, with intensities indicated by color of the dot. http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/2/20110327141208391-271408.html

  42. Nuklear power is NOT secure, because the energy-companies what to make money. I live in germany and they and the experts betray us many times (Atomlager ASSE).

    Until now I have linked to this blog. But I don’t do it anymore, because I don’t support Nuklear power which brings million dollar to a few people.

  43. Rob Huber says:
    March 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I’m all for trying to tone down the shrill hysteria, but not at the expense of truth.

    I agree with you that there is exaggeration at both ends of the spectrum. It’s standing out to me the degree to which some are saying how safe nuclear power is. That exaggeration is more dangerous than the overstatement running to the other end of the gamut.

  44. Daryl M says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    If you want to see for yourself the reason why we should not adopt large scale coal power, take a trip to China. I was in Guangzhou, Shanghai / Wuxi and Beijing last week and I can say that they were by far the most polluted cities

    The coal plants in China are not the same as in the US. The US has stricter standards. And at some point, if not already, China will have stricter standards too, in the name of self interest. I have to say again, if the United States had invested just 1/100th in technology for cleaning fumes from coal fire as it had in developing nuclear power there would be very little pollution from coal fire and no more need to continue investing billions (billions, with a ‘b’) in nuclear because it’s ‘cleaner than coal’.

  45. This is a breakdown of the contamination found in the basements of those turbine buildings:

    http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/fd_nuclide_conc.jpg?w=449&h=178

    The chlorine-38 is due to activation of chlorine-37 from sea salt from the sea water being used to cool the reactors. It has a short half-life and will decline as they switch to fresh water.

    The Cs-134 also has a very short half life. The I-131 has a half life of 8 days. That accounts for the majority of the radioactivity of that water. The Cs-137 has a longer half-life but once the other materials decay, there isn’t enough of it by itself to be hazardous.

    There is no strontium-90.

    The chlorine will eventually become argon and be vented with the steam. Same eventually with the sodium after passing through several phases of neutron activation.

  46. I am puzzled ,

    from here

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

    “For two of the three workers, significant skin contamination over their legs was confirmed. The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers� legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts.
    While the patients did not require medical treatment, doctors decided to keep them in hospital and monitor their progress over coming days”

    2 to 6 sieverts is not a small amount, 8 is the amount where 50% of people die. So I don’t understand this at all. Or perhaps the Grays is less? Normally 1 Gray – 1 Sv I thought, but perhaps the way they were exposed has lessened it?

    It seems that 1000 mSv per hour is present in some parts, that is not a small amount, 2 days working in that and you would be dead.

    Although the media has overplayed it I think this post underplays it too much as a reaction. Good food for thought though.

    Andy

  47. Here’s the Sunday morning news for you from Spiegel headlines:

    Radioactivity level is 10 million times above normal.

  48. “It seems that 1000 mSv per hour is present in some parts, that is not a small amount, 2 days working in that and you would be dead.”

    It depends on the type of radiation. You could work in that level of radiation for a month if it was all alpha radiation and you had no exposed skin. The workers got exposed to beta radiation. A pair of hip waders would have protected them. Beta penetrates a bit more than alpha, but not much more. They got what amounts to a sunburn.

    Now that level of radiation from gamma rays would likely kill someone. So it isn’t just the amount of radiation so much as it is the type of radiation. External radiation (as opposed to ingestion) of alpha or beta rays isn’t going to hurt you much. Gamma radiation is a different story.

  49. Two U.S. Navy barges shipping in fresh water for cooling reactor….

    “Iodine 131 was detected at a level 1,250 times the national safety limit,” Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said during a news conference…… Samples taken on Friday were significantly higher than those taken on Wednesday

    http://nei.cachefly.net/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/japan-earthquake-additional-nei-updates/japan-earthquake-nei-updates-for-saturday-march-26/

  50. Can’t believe I just read all 55 comments. I’m awfully impressed by what, collectively, contributors have assembled on this important subject. It’s unfortunate, though, that other lists with different agendas use much the same mechanism to perpetuate extravagant falsehoods. Not sure what to do about it, but it seems to me that journalists who’d like to think of themselves as other than talking heads reading what’s on the teleprompter have an obligation to inform themselves. They could do worse than monitor WUWT. Might be worth the effort to lobby a few. It’d also help if even our Western-educated population weren’t scientific illiterates — a high school diploma should indicate that the holder has been exposed to at least a bit of basic science … enough to sustain a healthy scepticism. In Australia, they’re taught to be ‘believers’, and to support their betters who are actually engaged in ‘saving the planet.’ Very sad, that. And very dangerous.

  51. What is truly outrageous is the lack of sympathy for this tragedy from the largely western media. How does this make western reporters look, absolutely loathesome. I feel ashamed that some of these are my countrymen.

  52. Shouldn’t there be a rule here that at least the authors have to use their real names?

    To “John A”, whoever that is…

    I don’t think people are particularly concerned about one of the richest and most technology advanced nations in the world is going to let a nuclear plant go into full meltdown and spread radiation across national boundaries. I think the concern is that as nukes become more common you’re going to see them springing up in poorer countries with unstable governments and the proliferation of radioactive waste that can be easily turned into so-called dirty bombs by just about anyone with little effort.

    I also suggest you include the health hazards of uranium mining in your nuclear safety roundups. Uranium mining and refinement is a skeleton in the nuclear safety closet.

    But none of that that is really my greatest concern. My greatest concern is that nuclear energy is expensive. If it lived up to the mid-twentieth century promises of providing cheap abundant energy I’d be willing to live with the undesirable aspects but the simple fact of the matter is that it isn’t cheap and therefore has little in the way of redeeming virtues to counter the undesirable aspects.

  53. Roger Sowell says:

    “I suspect, though, that the continuing aftershocks will worsen the breach or breaches and more and more radioactive material will seep out. ”

    We have not had any aftershocks that could be felt here in Tokyo for the past 48 hours or so, the longest period since the initial quake. While some of the aftershocks over the past week have been somewhat significant (as strong as 5+ on the Japanese shindo scale of 0 to 7 at locations not far from the reactors). All of this suggests that the aftershocks are finally beginning to wind down. I have not seen any discussion that these recent aftershocks had a significant affect on the Fukushima reactors. If anyone has information to the contrary, please post.

  54. I support nuclear energy. But this is an extremely serious situation.

    – Tepco have lied about the state of the plant, have admitted to lying and been criticised by Edano for doing so.
    – The workers suffering burns – this could have been easily avoided. That it happened implies they have not been thinking through the possibilities properly or strategically (ie the possibility that pools of radioactive water could accumulate once they started dousing the reactors with sea water). The risk management handling during this crisis seems very poor
    – Crisis countermeasures have seemed reactive and step-wise. Why didn’t water get there earlier? Why not freshwater earlier? Was the leaching of radioactive water anticipated? I want to see the place concreted over now – the longer they address the crisis with half-assed measures, the more damage will be done
    – Radiation levels have been steadily rising
    – Some radiation products can only have come from the spent fuel rods or reactor core
    – Fukushima has implications for storage of spent fuel rods everywhere. When evaluating the cost effectiveness of nuclear power, we have to account for the costs of proper disposal, rather than allowing private companies to cut costs by working practices that increase risk
    – The situation is not under control. Radiation release is in the Chernobyl orders of magnitude. This is a different disaster to Chernobyl, but the fuel rods, the fact that so many reactors are in trouble and the close proximity to a gigantic metropolis gives this the potential to cause outcomes that are far worse than Chernobyl. Those poor outcomes may be driven by radiation release, or population panic. And this may have gigantic economic implications too.

    This is not a nothingburger. It does you no credit to simply bash the straw man of mainstream media hysteria (which is like shooting fish in a barrel). There is an incredible scientific and environmental story unfolding here

  55. But none of that that is really my greatest concern. My greatest concern is that nuclear energy is expensive. If it lived up to the mid-twentieth century promises of providing cheap abundant energy I’d be willing to live with the undesirable aspects but the simple fact of the matter is that it isn’t cheap and therefore has little in the way of redeeming virtues to counter the undesirable aspects.

    It doesn’t need to be as expensive as it has been and, in fact, modern reactors are actually cheaper to build. Fewer pumps, valves, gauges, pipes, wires, etc. They are now much simpler in design. Also, it is the “lawfare” of the anti-nuclear dingbats that make it so expensive. See, they make the utility spend millions of dollars in court before they even start construction, and then complain that it is expensive.

    That is called “idiocy” where I come from.

  56. This thread needs a mention of radiation hormesis, a controversial but well-known concept. There is a 20 page pdf online by Prof. T. D. Luckey, who wrote a full monograph on radiation hormesis in ’91. I read it some years ago, and recall that Luckey could cite about a thousand papers at that time. For his overview, see–

    http://www.radpro.com/641luckey.pdf

    and compare the Wikipedia account —

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

    I’m a retired biomedical researcher. This blog is good on physical concepts, but needs more effort on biological science. To search Medline, enter ‘pubmed’ into google, and the first hit has a link to the search page. Enter ‘radiation hormesis’ and you get a couple of hundred hits. Try a lot of other keywords….Medline is free and there is no registration, etc. There are generally abstracts for anything recent, and full text is increasingly available.

    Incidentally, chemical hormesis exists, but is more tricky, since the effects of different agents vary considerably. I have seen such effects in my own work, but the hormetic dose range can be small.

    The real story is that regulators don’t want the idea to take hold, since it would undercut a lot of bureaucratic rationales. And, in fairness, the hormetic concept would probably be exploited by medical quacks. Thus, the linear-no-theshold (LNT) concept will be defended forever by ‘official’ science. It is wrong, however.

  57. Is this a Saturday morning example of the Associated Press scaremongering?

    TOKYO (AP) – Emergency workers struggling to pump contaminated water from Japan’s stricken nuclear complex fled one of the troubled reactors Sunday after reporting a huge spike in radioactivity, with levels 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor’s cooling system, officials said.

    The numbers were so high that the worker measuring radiation levels withdrew before taking a second reading, officials said.

    See:

    http://apnews.excite.com/article/20110327/D9M7GE700.html

  58. >>onion says: March 27, 2011 at 3:03 am
    >>I support nuclear energy. But this is an extremely serious situation.
    >>The workers suffering burns

    Without wishing to trivialise the issue, other energy sources are far more dangerous. Let’s look at what is happening elsewhere in the industry this month:

    19 killed in coal blast:

    http://www.inewsone.com/2011/03/12/19-killed-in-china-coal-mine-blast/34952

    11 killed in coal blast:

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-03/24/c_13796339.htm

    21 killed in coal blast:

    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/69430/21-killed-china-coal-mine.html

    And here is a round-up of some of the fossil-fuel deaths from 2010.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/25-Other-Energy-Disasters-atlantic-166031838.html?x=0

    Oh, and I forgot – three nuclear workers in Japan had ‘sunburns’ on their feet.

    .

  59. >>Logan says: March 27, 2011 at 3:25 am
    >>radiation hormesis

    If hormesis was true to that extent, then the people of Cornwall (high background radiation) would be healthier and live longer than other UK citizens. This does not appear to be so.

    .

  60. crosspatch says:
    March 27, 2011 at 3:09 am

    It doesn’t need to be as expensive as it has been and, in fact, modern reactors are actually cheaper to build.

    You are not taking into account the billions put into nuclear from around the world. It may be costing less than it used to to build them. But you can’t leave out how much it cost to get to this point. It all factors in. Without all that previous investment nuclear plants would not be at the cost they are at now.

    Coal has not had to have all that investment.

  61. you want scary headlines, you can rely on the BBC…

    “Japan: Radiation 10 million times higher in reactor

    Radioactivity in water at reactor 2 at the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has reached 10 million times the usual level, company officials say.

    Workers trying to cool the reactor core to avoid a meltdown have been evacuated.

    Earlier, Japan’s nuclear agency said that levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the plant had risen to 1,850 times the usual level.

    The BBC’s Mark Worthington said many people in Japan are becoming increasingly concerned about what is going to happen in the future.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12873439

  62. Logan says:
    March 27, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Luckey could cite about a thousand papers at that time.

    This is an interesting work on radiation hormesis and looks to be worth reading.

    There is also this study done on the ‘consequences’ of Chernobyl. It cites “more than 1,000 titles and more than 5,000 printed and Internet publications mainly in Slavic languages”.

    link to the work:

    http://www.nyas.org/publications/annals/Detail.aspx?cid=f3f3bd16-51ba-4d7b-a086-753f44b3bfc1

    But some are telling me it’s not a valid work. A few other commenters have talked about radiation hormesis in other threads on Fukushima. They also talked about the study you cite. The 1000 papers cited in the radiation hormesis paper are proof to those commenters that it is a good work. But the 1000 papers used in the Chernobyl paper are proof to them that it is biased because of political influences. They don’t apply the same critique of political bias to the radiation hormesis paper.

    The last few days I have been seeing something I didn’t think I would come across in this web site. There is a double standard in some of those that favor nuclear power. It looks the same as the double standard that global warming believers have. They like the 1000 papers when it favors something they like. But they rationalize 1000 papers when they say something they don’t like. Maybe it is commenters that are biased by politics, or some other thing. I’m not really sure at this point what is going on. But it has been an eye opening week.

  63. Folks It aint over yet so why not just wait and see what the real deal is once its over. I find it foolish for people to pronounce on this issue when its not under control.

  64. There may be some shrill hysterics, but on the other hand most of you hare taking this much too lightly. You are way too cavalier about it. Back on March 15, physicist Lubos Moto (who is NOT an anti-nuclear guy by any stretch of the imagination) wrote something about radiation, its effects on health, and what the levels being measured that day meant statistically for the health of people in the region.

    Radioactivity: sieverts and other units

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/03/radioactivity-sieverts-and-other-units.html

    The first part of that article is some background theory. The interesting part for the purpose of this discussion starts at the section titled: “Health and nuclear lifetimes”

    Some of the media may be hyperventilating, but clearly the (very scant and confusing) official information coming out of there is not reassuring in the least. It’s hard to find any information of continuous measurements of radiation close to the reactors, radiation is spiking in distant areas, the air samplers for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) around the world have apparently been been picking up increased radiation in very distant places http://www.naturalnews.com/031836_radioactive_fallout_Fukushima.html

    This thing is not over by any means and it does have the potential to become extremely messy for a very long time. And no, I don’t trust the Japanese government (or any government for that matter) or the Tokyo Power Company to be sincere and honest in what information they let out about what they really know. These things DO have a rich history of being downplayed or covered up as much and foras long as they can get away with it. You may want to read up on Chernobyl and how it was handleed by the authorities information wise. And let me add that those of you who are promoting the nonsense that Chernobyl caused only 56 deaths are deluded beyond redemption. The deaths and health effects of these things can only be obtained through careful statistical analysis of medical data followed up during decades, among a population that was scattered all over the place after they were evacuated.

    See for example Alex Cockburn’s (a known climate “denier” from the left) on the matter
    ***quote***
    In 2009 the New York Academy of Sciences published Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, a 327-page volume by three scientists, Alexey Yablokov and Vassily and Alexey Nesterenko, the definitive study to date, a lot of of it citations from scientific papers with detailed health statistics.

    In the summary of his chapter “Mortality After the Chernobyl Catastrophe,” Yablokov says flatly, “A detailed study reveals that 3.8–4.0% of all deaths in the contaminated territories of Ukraine and Russia from 1990 to 2004 were caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe.… Since 1990, mortality among the clean-up teams has exceeded the mortality rate in corresponding population groups. From 112,000 to 125,000 liquidators [ ie members of clean up crews] died before 2005—that is, some 15% of the 830,000 members of the Chernobyl cleanup teams. The calculations suggest that the Chernobyl catastrophe has already killed several hundred thousand human beings in a population of several hundred million that was unfortunate enough to live in territories affected by the fallout.”
    ***end of quote***

    Many of you sound a lot like George Monbiot, who claims that this mess has only strengthened his faith in the marvels of nuclear energy.

    Or read this interview with Hirose Takashi (who IS anti-nuclear and has written extensively about the matter)

    http://www.projectworldawareness.com/2011/03/what-theyre-covering-up-at-fukushima/

    Hirose Takashi: The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and the State of the Media
    Broadcast by Asahi NewStar, 17 March, 20:00
    Interviewers: Yo and Maeda Mari
    Translated by Douglas Lummis

    Yo: Today many people saw water being sprayed on the reactors from the air and from the ground, but is this effective?

    Hirose: . . . If you want to cool a reactor down with water, you have to circulate the water inside and carry the heat away, otherwise it has no meaning. So the only solution is to reconnect the electricity. Otherwise it’s like pouring water on lava.

    Yo: Reconnect the electricity – that’s to restart the cooling system?

    Hirose: Yes. The accident was caused by the fact that the tsunami flooded the emergency generators and carried away their fuel tanks. If that isn’t fixed, there’s no way to recover from this accident.

    Yo: Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner/operator of the nuclear plants] says they expect to bring in a high voltage line this evening.

    Hirose: Yes, there’s a little bit of hope there. But what’s worrisome is that a nuclear reactor is not like what the schematic pictures show (shows a graphic picture of a reactor, like those used on TV). This is just a cartoon. Here’s what it looks like underneath a reactor container (shows a photograph). This is the butt end of the reactor. Take a look. It’s a forest of switch levers and wires and pipes. On television these pseudo-scholars come on and give us simple explanations, but they know nothing, those college professors. Only the engineers know. This is where water has been poured in. This maze of pipes is enough to make you dizzy. Its structure is too wildly complex for us to understand. For a week now they have been pouring water through there. And it’s salt water, right? You pour salt water on a hot kiln and what do you think happens? You get salt. The salt will get into all these valves and cause them to freeze. They won’t move. This will be happening everywhere. So I can’t believe that it’s just a simple matter of you reconnecting the electricity and the water will begin to circulate. I think any engineer with a little imagination can understand this. You take a system as unbelievably complex as this and then actually dump water on it from a helicopter – maybe they have some idea of how this could work, but I can’t understand it.

    Yo: It will take 1300 tons of water to fill the pools that contain the spent fuel rods in reactors 3 and 4. This morning 30 tons. Then the Self Defense Forces are to hose in another 30 tons from five trucks. That’s nowhere near enough, they have to keep it up. Is this squirting of water from hoses going to change the situation?

    Hirose: In principle, it can’t. Because even when a reactor is in good shape, it requires constant control to keep the temperature down to where it is barely safe. Now it’s a complete mess inside, and when I think of the 50 remaining operators, it brings tears to my eyes. I assume they have been exposed to very large amounts of radiation, and that they have accepted that they face death by staying there. And how long can they last? I mean, physically. That’s what the situation has come to now. When I see these accounts on television, I want to tell them, “If that’s what you say, then go there and do it yourself!” Really, they talk this nonsense, trying to reassure everyone, trying to avoid panic. What we need now is a proper panic. Because the situation has come to the point where the danger is real.

    If I were Prime Minister Kan, I would order them to do what the Soviet Union did when the Chernobyl reactor blew up, the sarcophagus solution, bury the whole thing under cement, put every cement company in Japan to work, and dump cement over it from the sky. Because you have to assume the worst case. Why? Because in Fukushima there is the Daiichi Plant with six reactors and the Daini Plant with four for a total of ten reactors. If even one of them develops the worst case, then the workers there must either evacuate the site or stay on and collapse. So if, for example, one of the reactors at Daiichi goes down, the other five are only a matter of time. We can’t know in what order they will go, but certainly all of them will go. And if that happens, Daini isn’t so far away, so probably the reactors there will also go down. Because I assume that workers will not be able to stay there.

    I’m speaking of the worst case, but the probability is not low. This is the danger that the world is watching. Only in Japan is it being hidden. As you know, of the six reactors at Daiichi, four are in a crisis state. So even if at one everything goes well and water circulation is restored, the other three could still go down. Four are in crisis, and for all four to be 100 per cent repaired, I hate to say it, but I am pessimistic. If so, then to save the people, we have to think about some way to reduce the radiation leakage to the lowest level possible. Not by spraying water from hoses, like sprinkling water on a desert. We have to think of all six going down, and the possibility of that happening is not low. Everyone knows how long it takes a typhoon to pass over Japan; it generally takes about a week. That is, with a wind speed of two meters per second, it could take about five days for all of Japan to be covered with radiation. We’re not talking about distances of 20 kilometers or 30 kilometers or 100 kilometers. It means of course Tokyo, Osaka. That’s how fast a radioactive cloud could spread. Of course it would depend on the weather; we can’t know in advance how the radiation would be distributed. It would be nice if the wind would blow toward the sea, but it doesn’t always do that. Two days ago, on the 15th, it was blowing toward Tokyo. That’s how it is. . . .

    Yo: Every day the local government is measuring the radioactivity. All the television stations are saying that while radiation is rising, it is still not high enough to be a danger to health. They compare it to a stomach x-ray, or if it goes up, to a CT scan. What is the truth of the matter?

    Hirose: For example, yesterday. Around Fukushima Daiichi Station they measured 400 millisieverts – that’s per hour. With this measurement (Chief Cabinet Secretary) Edano admitted for the first time that there was a danger to health, but he didn’t explain what this means. All of the information media are at fault here I think. They are saying stupid things like, why, we are exposed to radiation all the time in our daily life, we get radiation from outer space. But that’s one millisievert per year. A year has 365 days, a day has 24 hours; multiply 365 by 24, you get 8760. Multiply the 400 millisieverts by that, you get 3,500,000 the normal dose. You call that safe? And what media have reported this? None. They compare it to a CT scan, which is over in an instant; that has nothing to do with it. The reason radioactivity can be measured is that radioactive material is escaping. What is dangerous is when that material enters your body and irradiates it from inside. These industry-mouthpiece scholars come on TV and what to they say? They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. I want to say the reverse. Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body. What happens? Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. That’s a thousand times a thousand squared. That’s the real meaning of “inverse ratio of the square of the distance.” Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion. Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger.

    Yo: So making comparisons with X-rays and CT scans has no meaning. Because you can breathe in radioactive material.

    Hirose: That’s right. When it enters your body, there’s no telling where it will go. The biggest danger is women, especially pregnant women, and little children. Now they’re talking about iodine and cesium, but that’s only part of it, they’re not using the proper detection instruments. What they call monitoring means only measuring the amount of radiation in the air. Their instruments don’t eat. What they measure has no connection with the amount of radioactive material. . . .

    Yo: So damage from radioactive rays and damage from radioactive material are not the same.

    Hirose: If you ask, are any radioactive rays from the Fukushima Nuclear Station here in this studio, the answer will be no. But radioactive particles are carried here by the air. When the core begins to melt down, elements inside like iodine turn to gas. It rises to the top, so if there is any crevice it escapes outside.

    Yo: Is there any way to detect this?

    Hirose: I was told by a newspaper reporter that now Tepco is not in shape even to do regular monitoring. They just take an occasional measurement, and that becomes the basis of Edano’s statements. You have to take constant measurements, but they are not able to do that. And you need to investigate just what is escaping, and how much. That requires very sophisticated measuring instruments. You can’t do it just by keeping a monitoring post. It’s no good just to measure the level of radiation in the air. Whiz in by car, take a measurement, it’s high, it’s low – that’s not the point. We need to know what kind of radioactive materials are escaping, and where they are going – they don’t have a system in place for doing that now.

    • @Francisco (2011/03/27 4:35 am)

      The interview you quote was from 17th March, and EVERYONE on that day was speculating, with much of that turning out to be wrong.

      I googled “radiation sensors” and “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)” and this story about radiation spreading across the globe seems to be repeated on many sites that like http://www.naturalnews.com are promoting and selling organic foods and products such as iodine. I’ve found it hard to find the facts behind this highly speculative and scaremongering meme that is repeated on many such sites.

      The closest I can get it this, which is altogether much more balanced:

      http://www.npr.org/2011/03/25/134833909/built-for-bombs-sensors-now-track-japan-radiation

      “The highest detection that we’ve gotten here in the U.S. has been far lower than the natural radioactivity that’s already there, so I don’t think there’s any increased risk to the U.S. public,” he says.

      Roger Samson has probably the best attitude:“Folks It aint over yet so why not just wait and see what the real deal is once its over. I find it foolish for people to pronounce on this issue when its not under control.”

  65. Ralph, I’m aware of those stats, part of the reason why I support nuclear. However, we have never had a disaster of the sort playing out in Fukushima, nor one so close to a massive metropolis. Costs will be measured not just in terms of lives lost but environmental and economic damage. An evacuation of Tokyo would in of itself be a momentous calamity

    And to reiterate – they are not in control at the moment

  66. ozspeaksup at March 27, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Nice catch on the Japanese News Service quoting the TEPCO
    officials on the status of Fukushima Reactor #2:

    “Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has detected radioactive materials 10-million-times normal levels in water at the No.2 reactor complex of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.”

    See:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/27_12.html

    The AP story seems to have dropped the information source
    and the Western Mainstream Media didn’t notice.

    However, ten million times “normal” may involve a bit of
    rounding, no matter what the source.

  67. says:
    March 27, 2011 at 4:00 am

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/27_12.html

    not sounding so harmless right now.

    and I support thorium to burn the waste we have now to stop this happening. too much in dicey storage.

    I am less concerned when I read this.

    First “TEPCO says it measured 2.9-billion becquerels of radiation per one cubic centimeter of water from the basement of the turbine building attached to the Number 2 reactor.” Think about diluting that with a cubic meter of water and note that the water in contained in the basement.

    Second: “TEPCO says the radioactive materials include 2.9-billion becquerels of iodine-134, 13-million becquerels of iodine-131, and 2.3-million becquerels each for cesium 134 and 137.” Iodine-134 has a half-life of 52.5 minutes and creates almost all of the radiation.

  68. I posted the following, with minor noted corrections and additions, on Climate Progress a short time ago:

    Current radiation levels in Tokyo are .115 microsieverts per hour. This works out to about 1mSv per year if this unusually high amount of background radiation persists. You may be surprised to know that this [elevated level of radiation] is about one third of the average amount of background radiation Americans receive in a year. In other words, the elevated radiation we are currently receiving in central Tokyo is far less than the average American receives in the US. Those of you who are frightened about the situation here should get on a plane and fly here so that you can reduce your exposure to natural background radiation.

    The situation at the Fukushima reactors is not optimal and the appropriate accounting for mistakes and adjusting will need to be done when the crisis ends. Start pointing your fingers then.

    As for Lewis’ criticisms [note: a previous poster on Climate Progress] about taking two weeks to get freshwater to the Fukushima site, does he have the faintest idea as to what happened here? More than 20,000 people are dead and more than 500,000 are homeless and dealing with that disaster was the first priority and this problem at the Fukushima plant was secondary in comparison. Should the government have ignored all of the human suffering in order to respond to the situation at Fukushima [to satisfy your concerns]?

    A close friend and colleague buried three relatives today, all young children and victims of the tsunami. This is what people here are focused on and they are angry that people like you are focused on this. Continue to focus on a problem that will be of little long term consequence here and absolutely none there [if you wish].

  69. A solution:
    People naturally have a strong fear of the unknown. The problem is that radiation is invisible. Put Geiger counters in the hands of the population. Let them see for themselves the amount of radiation that comes off a granite counter top, old glass, an old radium faced watch dial or their bathroom tile. They will also see that lack of radiation in the environment, food at the grocery store and smoke detectors. It takes away the fear of the unknown. Geiger counters for the public would also allow the public to monitor a nuclear power plant so that we wouldn’t have to trust authority figures or media, both of which are biased.

    Geiger counters can be cheep. I bought a Russian made one off the internet for $60.

  70. The media is correct to hyperventilate over minor radiation leaks. There should be no leaks at all. And generally, small leaks are a warning of potentially larger leaks. In this case, the larger leak has apparently now occurred. Japan is reporting a sudden spike of radiation 10 million times greater than normal levels.

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/27/workers-grapple-radioactive-water-troubled-japan-nuclear-plant/

    Being concerned and taking precautions is prudent. Luck favors the prepared.

  71. Normally WUWT is a beacon of sanity in a world of scare-mongerers.
    However, in this case many of the contributors are being of the sort “nothing to see here, move along please” on this subject. Exactly the attitude we all blamed the regular press for during the height of Climategate.
    The fact of the matter is that no-one knows what is going on at Fukushima. The info coming from there is at best of low quality, at worst a blatant pack of lies. And if anyone has ever looked at the safety record of TEPCO and the lies of the Japanese government in the past, you would all be much less confident that the workers just received “a mild sunburn” and that all of this will be over soon “because the halflife of Iodine 131 is only 8 days”. Beta radiation is no laughing matter and anyone who says that it is harmless should wash out their mouth with soap.
    If I had told my RNC safety officer at the Uni that I had received some mild exposure to C14 beta radiation but it was harmless and I only had a mild sunburn, my licence would have been revoked forever.
    This plant is going to heamorrhage radiation for months to come. Most of it leaking away as contaminated water. And the guys that are going to have to go in and clean up the mess will be taking huge personal risks. Let’s hope TEPCO has a good health plan…

  72. Joe says:
    March 27, 2011 at 1:03 am
    “Nuklear power is NOT secure, because the energy-companies what to make money. I live in germany and they and the experts betray us many times (Atomlager ASSE).

    Until now I have linked to this blog. But I don’t do it anymore, because I don’t support Nuklear power which brings million dollar to a few people.”

    Joe is typical. He would probably pay inflated prizes for organic vegetables without thinking; yet the fact that German utilities have a rather normal 10% profit margin tells him that they’re all on a murderous rampage to get him.

    Typical German ecological anticapitalist – he wouldn’t define himself this way, though – here in Germany it is already the “consensus POV”…

    I’m torn between leaving and exploiting them.

  73. Well one thing is for certain and that is radiation decays over time, however this plant seems to have a mind of it’s own and 2 weeks into it things seem to be getting no better.

    Nuclear is very safe but when it goes pop then people don’t know how to contain it both in time and space. It all seems to boil down to statistics and luck and hoping for the best.

    Nobody on this thread known how it will turn out. After 2 weeks. Sadly, it seems neither do the people actually on the ground due to lack of past experience.
    Andy

  74. Rob Huber says:
    March 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Brian H:

    “The burns were, according to one semi-hysterical report, due to “beta radiation”. For the folks at home, that’s electrons. Mild electrical burns, sort of. A soothing salve is recommended”

    I’m all for trying to tone down the shrill hysteria, but not at the expense of truth. Beta particles are high energy elections expelled from a nucleus. Saying they cause “mild electrical burns” is like saying gamma radiation might cause a mild sunburn or upset tummy.

    Or alpha radiation from radioisotopes lodge in the lungs merely make you talk funny since alphas are just helium nuclei.

    A couple things I haven’t figured out, in part because there’s a decent chance no one knows, is just what radiation dose the workers received. The does the dosimeters received is not very interesting unless they wore the dosimeters on their ankles.

    There is that estimate of 2-6 sieverts, but that’s a dose concentrated on a small part of the body, but on body parts that aren’t nearly as sensitive as squishier organs. I thought the effects of various doses are reported on external radiation, but given the weighting of alphas at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sievert it sounds as though what’s reported would be as if the radiation was internal.

  75. @ Verity Jones:
    March 27, 2011 at 5:51 am

    The story seems to come from New Scientist and was picked up by Natural News and many other places

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20285-fukushima-radioactive-fallout-nears-chernobyl-levels.html

    It’s very hard to get any information on official measurements near the plant, or on these sensors for the nuclear ban treaty around the world.

    The Lubos Motl article on radiation units in relation to health effects are so far the most informative attempt I’ve seen at a clear, dispassionate explanation of this matter. While it may not be cause for panic, it is not exacly reassuring either.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/03/radioactivity-sieverts-and-other-units.html

    Excerpt:
    […]
    “Today [March 15], near the worst reactor building in Fukushima, they detected 400 millisieverts per hour: this figure was ultimately confirmed by IAEA (which was, until very recently, trying to downplay all radiation risks in Japan – a fact that may be related to the current Japanese leader of IAEA, Yukiya Amano). I want you – including all fellow big fans of nuclear energy – to understand that this is just a huge number. We have quantified one death to be 5 sieverts above: and the kids playing next to the reactor receive 0.4 sieverts per hour. Thank you, you’re welcome.”
    […]

  76. Thanks for the link crosspatch. Duly added.

    And if I might just expand a smidgen on my own views for a moment…
    I am quite concerned, as well as very interested in the situation that continues to unfold at the Fukushiuma Daiichi power station. This is no doubt the most serious event to yet occur to a western nuclear reactor. The engineers and operators there truly are sailing in dangerous and uncharted waters. They are quite literally writing the manual for dealing with future events of this nature. While I agree that it is essential for any and all information of the incident to be released to the public, I do not believe speculation and hyperbole, nor the constant incitement to panic such as exhibited by the media and others is even remotely helpful. I feel the press has — with few exceptions — again proven itself hopelessly incompetent and recklessly irresponsible with it’s sensational and misleading coverage. Nothing of import can be achieved by needlessly frightening people — that is unless your aim is to do just that for ulterior reasons. Remember what a certain presidential Chief of Staff recently proclaimed; “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Using the crisis in Japan to further an agenda is at the very least morally reprehensible.

  77. Wow. There’s alot of radiation fearmongers on this thread, new ones in addition to the usuals. Reading those posts is like trying to stomach an Obama speech, or a realclimate post.

    The fearmongers only diminish their own credibility, and only confirms rational peoples’ opinion of them.

  78. Which is scarier ?

    “Ten million times “normal”…”

    OR

    Mar 27, 10:21 AM (ET)
    By YURI KAGEYAMA and MARI YAMAGUCHI

    TOKYO (AP) – “…a spike that officials later apologetically said was inaccurate.”

    n Sunday night, though, plant operators said that while the water was contaminated with radiation, the extremely high reading was a
    mistake.
    “The number is not credible,” said Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita. “We are very sorry.”

    Rounding up, indeed.

    No wonder the Japanese government wagged it’s finger
    and scolded the TEPCO managent last week.

  79. AndyW says:
    March 27, 2011 at 6:19 am
    “Well one thing is for certain and that is radiation decays over time, however this plant seems to have a mind of it’s own and 2 weeks into it things seem to be getting no better.”

    Shutting down a nuclear plant is a long messy process. The media can be hysterical about it for years. Yet there is no danger to the public from the radiation.

  80. Curious how those closest to the situation have the least concern.

    As I noted earlier, at elevated levels the amount of radiation we are experiencing here in Tokyo is still a fraction of the normal background radiation the average American experiences. The problems being experienced up at the Fukushima reactor complex should not be dismissed, however, at this point there is no indication that this is going to be anything other than a local event. The 35 million people who live in the Tokyo metropolitan region face little danger, either in the short or long term. Even people like Kevin in Koriyama who posted earlier face little danger.

  81. David Thomson says:
    March 27, 2011 at 6:01 am
    “The media is correct to hyperventilate over minor radiation leaks. There should be no leaks at all. And generally, small leaks are a warning of potentially larger leaks. In this case, the larger leak has apparently now occurred. Japan is reporting a sudden spike of radiation 10 million times greater than normal levels.”

    Ten million times greater than normal levels? When reading a report like this, if you do not have access to reliable information then wait several hours before panicking. Your own hysteria is the best evidence against your stated position.

  82. R. de Haan says:
    March 27, 2011 at 6:55 am

    You can build a nuclear plant in my under pants

    http://climaterealists.com/?id=7446

    ————————–
    The author of that rapsody should move his behind where his mouth is: straight above the nuclear reactors, as a member of the teams of workers who are trying to cool them. Once he does, his rapsody will gain credibility.

    Another thing I don’t understand is the pervasive argument that because the accident and the mess were caused by a very big earthquake, it should give us more confidence, not less, in the safety of nuclear plants. That’s extremely rich, as well as the habit of comparing the consequences of nuclear accidents, which may leave a large area uninhabitable for a very long time and cause health effects lasting decades, on the same terms with any other kind of catastrophic accident. Again, the guy should, at the very least, move next door to one of those California nuclear plants sitting alongside fault lines.

  83. “It’s my view that the world deserves better than this. The real plight of the Japanese survivors of the earthquake and tsunami is being forgotten in the service of a bizarre fear about radiation that is more science fiction than science fact.”

    You’re an optimist. The Media “telling the facts”? No way, Jose! Perversion sells everything, honesty counts for nothing but laughs (everyone thinks you’re telling a joke). A few hundred years ago they had “The Age of Reason”, today we have “Anthroprogenic Global Insanity”. Dear Old Rome fell from the same bug. There’s no known cure or antitoxin, it’s always fatal.

  84. sHx says:
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    Coal is a highly localized resource. It is expensive to ship. Cost of mining varies widely around the world. From 30 tons per hour in Wyoming to 3 tons per hour East of the Mississippi in the US to 3 hours per ton in various places in China.

    The cost of coal in the world varies from less then $1/MBtu to $7/MBtu.

    All the various ‘energy’ vendors use there competitors worst prices and their best prices when blathering on about how this,that or the other form of energy is ‘cheapest’.

    Somewhere in the world coal,natural gas, oil, nuclear, wind or solar is cheapest.

    So they are all telling the truth.

    I don’t live in the Sahara desert or Wyoming. My ‘cheapest’ options are nuclear or natural gas.

  85. Of course the German media are pushing the alarm buttons. It’s election time. And there aren’t nearly enough “Green” politicians in power yet to completely destroy Germany’s economy by de-industrialisation.

    Some fools become unctious when the fear campaign is confronted with facts and reason. Check the comments here. They seem incapable of living without fear.

    The “journalists” aren’t afraid to recycle old fear-mongering as fresh reports.

    My reading of the German media indicates that the people are being duped into believing that Japan has suffered a nuclear disaster, not a natural one. See this example.

    The mis-reporting goes far beyond that which can be attributed to incompetence. Even well-cultivated incompetence.

    I am amazed by the temperate language of Japan’s officials when confronted with the media that seeks to portray something as a disaster when it isn’t; and in the press’ fervor to fabricate, they appear to wilfully avert their gaze from the real, natural disaster. Perhaps the Japanese are hoping that the errant “journalists” will find shame in such misdeads eventually.

  86. DirkH says:
    March 27, 2011 at 6:26 am
    Oops. Radiation 10mill times higher than normal? Sorry, that was a mistake.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12875327

    “The operators of a stricken Japanese nuclear plant have apologised for a “mistake” in reporting a radiation spike 10 million times above normal.”
    =========================
    This is very interesting. On the update at 10:46 ET, the article you link said the following

    ***quote**
    A spokesman for Japan’s nuclear watchdog, Hidehiko Nishiyama, said the level of radiation in puddles near reactor 2 was confirmed at 1,000 millisieverts an hour.

    “It is an extremely high figure,” Mr Nishiyama said.

    A cancer risk is evident with an exposure of 100 millisieverts a year.
    ***end of quote***

    First thing to notice is that the last sentence above seems to have disappeared on the update at 11:07 ET, just 21 minutes later. That’s very interesting. Orwell spoke of “future societies” that rewrite the past. He just never dreamed they could do it so quickly.

    In any case, 1,000 millisieverts are 1 sievert, so 1 per hour gives you 8,760 Sieverts a year.

    Now, the 100 millisieverts a year that could give you cancer (before the last update) are 0.1 sieverts a year, right?

    So, this is 8760/0.1 = 87,600 times above the cancer risk level.

    The second thing to notice is that they *don’t* give you what the “normal” level is. They make you work.

    “Average individual background radiation is 0.00023mSv/hr,” according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sievert

    so this works out to be 2mSv/year or 0.002 Sv/yr.

    Now divide 8,760 by 0.002 and you get 4,380,000.

    So, it is not 10 million times above normal. It’s only 4.4 million times above normal. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. Everything is okay and nuclear energy is the best and cleanest thing since wonderbread.

  87. @Francisco

    But, if he did move right next door, and one ten times bigger than “the big one” came, the quake or tsunami would kill him, not the nuclear reactor. I think that’s the point.

    Granted, if you embed several hundred tons of graphite within your reactor core, there is a method of dispersing significant radioactivity. We don’t have that with the California plants. Nor, the Japanese plants, for that matter.

    And, Francisco, any idea what the size of the big one everyone is worried about in CA is? Well, this one was 50 times bigger than that. If a 9.0 quake were to happen within 100 miles of Diablo Canyon, that plant would be the least of everybody’s problems.

    It is somewhat comforting to me to learn that a plant will survive an earthquake 10+ times its design. I can also use the fact that a tsunami 2.5 times design is more problematical to dictate necessary improvements.

  88. sHx says:

    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Could someone explain why any climate skeptic should advocate nuclear power?

    Even if one comes to believe that is normal and healthy to get irradiated when things go wrong, the nuke power is still not viable for economic reasons. It is much more expensive than coal for power generation.

    Why not fall back on coal? Is it because continuing CO2 emissions will bring about a climate catastrophe?

    The answer, sHx, is that coal kills. Properly sited, designed, and operated nuclear power plants don’t.

  89. I think the lesson from all of this, from the media point of view, is once your ratings start to sag from showing footage of tens of thousands of people being killed by a biblically massive earthquake and tsunami, it’s good to have a nuclear disaster to fall back on, even though it’s unlikely to kill a single person.

  90. @ John Tofflemire onMarch 27, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Re not feeling any aftershocks in Tokyo. To me, that is good. To an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant with reactor fuel rods melting, that is not so good. A good analogy is a forest where a tree has a dead limb barely hanging on high up in the tree. Perhaps a strong storm broke the limb but did not cause the limb to fall. Subsequent gentle breezes or mild winds also push on the dead limb, and eventually it falls.

    Similar things happen to dams on rivers, and other man-made structures such as bridges.

    My position on the mass media over-using dramatic words is to ignore the hype, and focus on the facts. Seeing buildings’ roofs explode is a fact. Seeing black or dark smoke from a reactor building, seeing white smoke (likely steam), noting that workers were evacuated very suddenly, seeing firetrucks spraying water from a distance, noting that seawater was used to cool things down (that alone is an indication of sheer desperation because nothing else works), noting high levels of radioactive particles around the plant, in the air, ground, water and in other countries, noting the evacuation of all people for 20 miles (or whatever the distance is), all are facts needing no hyperbole. Now, most ominously, seeing reports from TEPCO that very high and dangerous levels of radiation exist inside the turbine building is an indication that something somewhere is leaking where there should be no leaks. This morning, however (it’s 9 a.m. in California) TEPCO has retracted their earlier statement of 10 million times higher than normal radiation. The confusion continues.

    What is needed is for some nuclear-power-plant grade stop-leak. Something that will plug a leaking containment building, but not be destroyed by heat or radiation.

  91. Francisco says:
    March 27, 2011 at 8:43 am
    “So, it is not 10 million times above normal. It’s only 4.4 million times above normal. You can now breathe a sigh of relief. Everything is okay and nuclear energy is the best and cleanest thing since wonderbread”

    The next thing you’re going to tell me is we should stop building refineries because you can die when you stand right next to a burning tank. http://froyonation.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/japans-massive-earthquake-in-pictures/

  92. Roger Sowell says:
    March 27, 2011 at 9:22 am
    This morning, however (it’s 9 a.m. in California) TEPCO has retracted their earlier statement of 10 million times higher than normal radiation. The confusion continues.
    ================

    Roger, see my post above at March 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

    They retracted the statement, but never indicated what the corrected figure should be. Turns out that instead of 10 million times, it is “only” 4.4 million times above normal. That’s supposed to be reassuring.

    The information is confusing, probably on purpose, or maybe out of plain journalistic incompetence. For example, they give radiation levels at the reactor in millisieverts per *hour*, and then as comparison they give cancer risk level in millisieverts per *year*, so the immediate casual impression a reader gets is a ratio over 8,000 times smaller that what it is. Then they eliminate the information about the cancer risk level altogether, to further prevent any comparison, and of course they never tell you what the normal level is.
    Or maybe it’s not done on purpose. Maybe it’s just plain incompetence in reporting.

  93. With all of this talk about leaks, everyone needs to remember that there is no evidence that the containment vessels have been breeched due to structural failure. That’s not to say that it won’t be determined that there has been structural failure in the future, but at this point, the radioactivity is due to steam that has been vented from the vessels and the spent fuel holding ponds. Once enough water is pumped back into the containment vessels and holding ponds and the temperature comes back down, the venting will stop and the radioactivity will diminish. Most of it is due to iodine, which has a half life of 8 days.

  94. Francisco says:
    March 27, 2011 at 8:43 am
    “Now, the 100 millisieverts a year that could give you cancer (before the last update) are 0.1 sieverts a year, right?”

    Francisco, you are talking like a green propagandist here – You imply that cancer is a certainty after receiving 100 milliSieverts. This is not so. 100 milliSieverts is the smallest dose that can be statistically linked to an increase in the occurence of cancer is what i read – and assuming 20% of a population get cancer some time in their lives, maybe (depending on the confidence level and the distribution used) the 100mSv would increase that to 22% so that would then be statistically significant… I don’t know the real numbers but it’s not as grave as you make it sound. I know, you sound like a totalitarian so this won’t impress you much but i can’t let your statement stand the way you made it. If anyone knows the source for the 100 mSv cancer link, i would be very interested.

  95. BBC Article:
    “Japan nuclear: Workers evacuated as radiation soars… The death toll has now passed 10,000, and more than 17,440 people are missing… Mass burials have been held…”

    The article is about the Fukushima nuclear plant situation, but a photo of mass burials in Yamamoto is included (WHY?)… and the death toll from the quake/tsunami (WHY?).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12872707

    Every update I read about the nuclear struggle at Fukushima includes the Tsunami/Earthquake DEATH TOLL and now a photo of MASS BURIALS !!
    This in not journalism it is blatant PROPAGANDA !

    Linking Nuclear with Death is an agenda. I am disgusted.
    Who is the director of this evil spin ?

  96. The lessons of Katrina and the Gulf oil spill: Nothing turns a buck like a well-regulated and hysterically reported fabrication based on a natural or man-caused event. No reason not to continue with the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

    And surely some sick person somewhere is busy writing a new cover for Johnny Cash’s old song retitled, “Boy Named Tsu”.

    Anything for a buck. Absolutely anything.

  97. According to NISA via t-online, a German portal, concerning the last radiation spike that so unsettles Francisco:
    “Radioaktives Jod stammt wohl aus Reaktorkern
    Laut NISA stammt die Strahlung überwiegend von radioaktivem Jod-134, das eine Halbwertzeit von 53 Minuten habe. ”

    “Radioactive iodine probably stems from reactor core”
    “According to NISA the radiation stems mostly from radiactive iodine 134 which has a half-life of 53 minutes.”
    from

    http://nachrichten.t-online.de/fukushima-betreiber-strahlung-nicht-millionenfach-erhoeht/id_45275788/index

    (but you won’t find the text i translated anymore, they rewrite it constantly – the iodine 134 quote is already gone; it was there a few minutes ago. Maybe it was another mistake, maybe they need to remove physical details to not confuse their readers with complicated words like half-life. The word half-life (“Halbwertszeit”) is gone now from the article. And of course, as is best practise in journalism, they don’t notify their readers of corrections or changes they did. Fishing for information in the MSM is like digging for gold nuggets.)

  98. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Shutting down a nuclear plant is a long messy process. The media can be hysterical about it for years. Yet there is no danger to the public from the radiation.

    You simply cannot say that. For one you cannot look into the future, secondly, even in the past the authorities advised against tap water for a time for infants.

    I guess I am fear mongering though :) It’s just localised after all. Though of course nobody knows how local, they can’t even seem to read their measurments right at the moment.

    Andy

  99. Daryl M says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    “If you want to see for yourself the reason why we should not adopt large scale coal power, take a trip to China. I was in Guangzhou, Shanghai / Wuxi and Beijing last week and I can say that they were by far the most polluted cities”

    Daryl, I can only say you spent to much time in the Shanghai bars!

    I have worked in Shanghai, Guanzhou and Wuxi for the last 6 years. Since the Olympics and the recent Expo in Shanghai and the even more recent Asia games you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

    I have photos from the last 6 years that prove you are talking rubbish and I can only think you have very little time in China. Many of my friends are astonished by the improvements around the cities and you make no mention of the millions of trees that have been planted around the areas!

    The coal power stations being built have scrubbers fitted and your knowledge of both China and their efforts to allow its people a standard of life that you take for granted makes me want to puke! I would suggest you start at home before having a pop at a country trying to make life better, against all odds, for its people. Or are you simply scared your country is financially owned by China? You sound like a typical sick green trying to keep the 3rd world in the dark ages!

  100. Anthony, I am astonished at the amount of fools on this thread that have absolutely NO idea about millisieverts! How can that be so after your excellent Banana posting and links to non MSN accurate reports!

    Now we can see how AGW makes its mark and how we must strive to fight ignorance!

  101. Matt says:
    March 27, 2011 at 1:44 am
    Here’s the Sunday morning news for you from Spiegel headlines:

    Radioactivity level is 10 million times above normal.

    Sorry to ruin your schaden freude Matt, but that report has been retracted as an error. As you will find if you look on the web,

  102. The question has been asked ‘why nuclear and not coal?’ Well even if you accept that China’s health and safety record is woeful, and ignore the 5,000 plus lives lost in Chinese coal mines last year. If at the same time you ignore the premature deaths caused by pollution from Chinese coal fired power stations. If you also choose to forget that the waste from coal fired power stations is itself radio active, the number of people worldwide who’ll die prematurely from generating electricity from coal will be many times, if not orders of magnitude, higher than from radiation in Japan.

  103. The current coverage in the MSM is just another example of the dictum
    “For a journalist, the truth exists solely to be raped”

  104. The final outcome of the Fukushima crisis is so uncertain that I think that WUWT is putting itself in a very fragile position by defending once and again the “no need to worry” meme. The truth is that the nuclear disaster hasn’t yet finished and it has the potential to become much worse than it is now. And if that happens in the end, WUWT will have lost quite a lot of credibility. And all for what? Nothing to win here. You will claim that you were lied to, about the true situation, and put the blame in others. But in the end it will be your credibility that will suffer.

    So the media is exagerating? Great, denounce that. Explain which things that they said have no basis or are directly wrong. But don’t run with such uncertain predictions as “No-one will die from radiation from Fukushima”. We don’t know. At best, we know what is going on now, which may not be so bad, but we also know that we don’t know how it is going to evolve. The “nothing will happen” claims are as bad as the “cataclysm is comming” claims.

    REPLY: Well, as Anna V points out even the BBC has a very popular article calling for the toning down of this sort of thing, so I suppose WUWT is in good company:

    Viewpoint: We should stop running away from radiation

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12860842

    -Anthony

  105. Roger Sowell says:
    March 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

    To an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant with reactor fuel rods melting, that is not so good

    What evidence due you have that anything is melting?

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

    At Unit 1, the temperature measured at the bottom of the RPV fell slightly to 142 °C. At Unit 2, the temperature at the bottom of the RPV fell to 97 °C from 100 °C reported in the Update provided yesterday.

  106. What pains me is the downplaying of this disaster, and the wiping from history of the effects of Chernobyl, and the Japanese government keeping going reactors which have a long history of incompetance and lying by falsifying safety records. You choose to believe these people, those promoting that this is no worse than eating a banana, tell us how many bananas we have to eat to bear physically and mentally deformed children, to create the cancers and auto-immune diseases rampant after Chernobyl in the areas immediately affected and rising levels globally since nuclear weapons factories have been spewing this stuff all over us. All the whitewash and double-speak involved here should be easily seen through by those competent and scientifically savvy to see through AGW claims – so why aren’t you seeing it?

    So they made a mistake an announced the truth before anyone could stop them, and now forced to retract?

    What’s happened to the rods and plutonium? Anyone know?

  107. No Godzilla? First no dragons from CERN and now no giant Tokyo-smashing amphibians (or was he a reptile?). I am so disappointed with modern science!

    On a more serious note, I think the media stories say a whole lot more about how the media, political activists and politicians see nuclear energy and science than they do about the actual status and activities at Fukushima. That may be one of the larger lessons from this, along with how Japan rebuilds and reassesses their preparation and response procedures.

  108. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12876083

    27 March 2011 Last updated at 13:02 ET

    Germany: Angela Merkel ‘to lose key state election’

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are set to lose the key state of Baden-Wuerttemberg after six decades, exit polls suggest.

    The polls put the Greens and Social Democrats at a combined 48.5%, with Mrs Merkel’s party and its Free Democrat (FDP) allies at 43%.

    Nuclear power, following the accident in Japan, was a key issue.

    The vote in the wealthy south-western state was seen as a referendum on Mrs Merkel’s rule.

    The region, around Stuttgart, has a population of some 11 million and has been ruled by the Christian Democrats since 1953.

    If the Greens do go into coalition with the Social Democrats, it will be the first time they have held power in a state.

    Green party spokesman Franz Untersteller said: “It’s a dream come true… we could never have dreamed of a result like this a few days ago.”

    Ah Deutschland, you have grown wealthy, have prospered further under Merkel’s benevolent rule, your citizens widely enjoy lives of pampered comfort. So much so that they can believe such wealth can be thrown away to pursue Green dreams of renewable wind and solar power, that they can become one with the Nature that has steadfastly fought to eliminate humans from your territories for millenia. I shall miss you.

    You know, that place just hasn’t been the same since that share of my ancestors left. Did they take too much of the common sense with them? ;-)

  109. You welcome to do your own search if the blog this is taken from offends.., but it’s the first one I found on the Reisch imput so I’m sticking with it for now.

    “The Japanese authorities classifies the disaster as a four on the seven Ines-scale, which means “an accident without significant risk to the environment”. Reisch dismisses this as a cover-up:

    They have econonomic interests. This is a seven. During my years at SKI, I would not have talked, but now I’m retired and can speak freely.
    – This is absolutely comparable with Chernobyl. It’s about the impact on a large area with many people and local release of radioactive material that is likely to be the case of lethal doses,
    he says, Aftonbladet reports.

    Frigyes Reisch, 78, is associate professor of nuclear safety at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). Vover 27 years, until 1997, he worked for the Nuclear Power Inspectorate, SKI. In 1993 he worked a year for the IAEA as an international educator in the INES scale, including in Russia and the Czech Republic. …

    Given all the rescue workers who worked closely with the affected units and inhaled radioactive steam, it’s in reality impossible to not die of radiation. said Frigyes Reisch.

    According to the “Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety” – France, the radioactive cloud will spread almost throughout the entire planet by March 26, 2011.

    http://humansarefree.com/2011/03/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-as-bad-as.html

  110. @harrywr2 on March 27, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Re evidence for fuel rods melting — would you prefer cracked open? broken apart? overheated? first level of containment breached? Had a hole blown in it? Pick your preferred terminology. As to the evidence you request, I suggest one look at the hydrogen explosions, workers suddenly evacuated, radiation levels far above normal, or perhaps such things are not “evidence” to you.

    We have a legal term in the US process industries, and that is “mechanical integrity.” It stems from 29 CFR 1910(j) and following, and is a Federal law. Basically, it means one must keep the fluid or hazardous material inside the pipe, or vessel, or equipment.

    It is obvious that the reactors at the Fukushimal Daiichi nuclear power plant have failed the mechanical integrity requirement. The mechanism of that failure is not the issue at the moment. The degree of that failure, however, is paramount.

    Unless, of course, you believe there are gremlins inside the stricken nuclear power plants that are maliciously bestowing highly radioactive materials in water puddles. And in the ocean near the plant. And in the air. And the surrounding ground.

  111. DirkH says:
    March 27, 2011 at 10:05 am
    Francisco, you are talking like a green propagandist here – You imply that cancer is a certainty after receiving 100 milliSieverts. This is not so. 100 milliSieverts is the smallest dose that can be statistically linked to an increase in the occurence of cancer is what i read
    ==============
    I have no idea where you pick up that I imply that cancer is a *certainty* after a dose of 100 millisievert. I am not sure you are grasping these units and time frames. You are confusing 100 mSv (that is, 100 mSv over a lifetime) with 100 mSv per year.

    Back in 1990 the Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation estimated that 1 out of 100 people “would likely develop solid cancer or leukemia from an exposure of 100 millisievert of radiation over a lifetime with half of those cases being fatal.”

    Please note the words “over a lifetime” We were talking of 100 mSv per year, not per life time. Assuming average lifetimes of 70 years, a radiation of 100 mSv/yr would be 70 times stronger than 100mSv per lifetime. It all depends how long you are exposed to it, of course.

    Consider further that the figure of 1,000 mSv *per hour* being measured near the reactor is nearly 9 million mSv per year, or if you prefer, it is 87,600 Times stronger than 100 mSv per year and some 6 million times stronger than 100 mSv per lifetime.

    Consider that a chest x-ray gives you 0.1 mSv. So one single day near that reactor would give you the equivalent of 240,000 x-rays. Or, if you prefer, 2.8 x-rays per second.

    Now, what about a dose of 100 mSv/yr that you consider so inocuous?
    Well, that would give you only 2.7 x-rays per day or nearly 1,000 x-rays per year, or some 70,000 x-rays over a lifetime.

    If doctors and nurses listened to you, they would not bother to leave the room when they give you an x-ray.

  112. Re: Strontium-90 (or lack thereof):

    As other posters have mentioned, Sr-90 is relatively low activity (i.e. longish half-life) and has likely not been released in any appreciable quantity because it and its precursors are non-volatile.

    Also, Sr-90 is a pure beta-emitter, that is, decays without emission of any characteristic gamma rays. As such, its activity is relatively difficult to measure. You have to first separate and purify the strontium from the overall sample, and then count its beta emissions. Under the immediate circumstances, there is no particular value to this extra effort, but in the long run I expect the food supply in the region will be monitored for Sr-90.

  113. It is awfully hard to evaluate risk when you are lied to by three to seven orders of magnitude. That is about the difference between what nuclear engineers are told about deaths from 20th century bomb and radioactivity releases and the true numbers of cancer and childhood victims, immune problems and heart trouble.

    The public senses it is being lied to and cannot evaluate risk because it knows it does not have the facts. Hence, you see a mad scramble for KI and KIO3 in the USA, where the radiation recieved just does not justify the trouble, even with correct information.

    Hence, you see no understanding of the difference between Fukujima’s 40-year-old reactors and modern designs. We were told Shippingport had no radiation releases when it was millions of curies. There is no way to evaluate whether we are really being told the truth about modern reactors.

    I am in favor of new nukes being built only by spacefaring nations, to train nuclear engineers. Nobody else has any business having them.

    Nuclear power was proven in space in the 1060’s by both the US and USSR. This is our starship fuel and it should not be wasted here on Earth.

  114. It would be a huge embarrassment to Japanese Engineering and National Pride to have to entomb even one of the reactors permanently in concrete. Even if that were determined to be the most prudent move right now, I have difficulty seeing them do it without a suicidal save attempt first…a “face saving” attempt by decree that the damage is salvageable. They want it to “look” ok. This is where the Asian Culture can interfere with what is prudent or practical.

    I personally think that at least one of the reactors is “seriously broken”(if it overheated, it’s broken), and will be very difficult to manage.
    I wonder what the troubleshooting manual recommends to do when it “gets broken”, and what the options are. Maybe that chapter hasn’t been written yet.

    As a disclaimer, I am just guessing as the accuracy in details is elusive.
    For them, us, and the world, I hope they can fix it without the concrete.

  115. Roger Sowell says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “Unless, of course, you believe there are gremlins inside the stricken nuclear power plants…….
    ================
    There are “gremlins” in every machine/process, ask any engineer.
    The whole idea is to anticipate and defeat the “gremlins”.

  116. Roger Sowell says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “Re evidence for fuel rods melting — would you prefer cracked open? broken apart? overheated? first level of containment breached? Had a hole blown in it?”

    Melting is current tense.

    The temperature required to ‘melt’ uranium fuel rods is somewhere around 2000C.

    Here is a link to a nice drawing from the Japan Safety Agency including the temperatures on the outside of the reactor core TODAY. Not last week. Not two weeks ago but TODAY.

    http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110327-2-2.pdf

    Here is an article from the MIT Department of Nuclear Engineering on Decay Heat

    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/16/what-is-decay-heat/

    Here is the radiation levels at the plant gate on the 21st

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/monitoring/11032115a.pdf

    Here is the radation levels at the plant gate today

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/monitoring/11032801a.pdf

    I think you will find the level of radiation has decreased 96% in 6 days and continues to drop.

    Here’s the radiation in drinking water by prefecture…

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/03

    Here’s the radiation levels in all but 2 of Japans prefectures today.

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/03/27/1304324_2719.pdf/27/1303966_271300_1_2.pdf

    Did something bad happen? Yes
    Is anything currently melting? No
    Is there any evidence that anything will be melting in the near future? No

    The plant operators have to dissipate about 6 MWt of heat per hour per reactor at the current time.
    Down from 3,000 MWt they had to dissipate when the earthquake hit, and the 50MWt per hour they had to dissipate when the Tsunami hit.

  117. Pete H says:
    March 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Daryl M says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    “If you want to see for yourself the reason why we should not adopt large scale coal power, take a trip to China. I was in Guangzhou, Shanghai / Wuxi and Beijing last week and I can say that they were by far the most polluted cities”

    Daryl, I can only say you spent to much time in the Shanghai bars!

    That’s a useful remark.

    I have worked in Shanghai, Guanzhou and Wuxi for the last 6 years. Since the Olympics and the recent Expo in Shanghai and the even more recent Asia games you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

    I must have been imagining the smog and imagining the comments of my colleagues about it.

    I have photos from the last 6 years that prove you are talking rubbish and I can only think you have very little time in China. Many of my friends are astonished by the improvements around the cities and you make no mention of the millions of trees that have been planted around the areas!

    Okay, so it’s better than it was. It’s still extremely polluted. China, like most totalitarian states, shows little or no regard minor details such as pollution.

    The coal power stations being built have scrubbers fitted and your knowledge of both China and their efforts to allow its people a standard of life that you take for granted makes me want to puke! I would suggest you start at home before having a pop at a country trying to make life better, against all odds, for its people. Or are you simply scared your country is financially owned by China? You sound like a typical sick green trying to keep the 3rd world in the dark ages!

    Go ahead and puke if it makes you feel better. You don’t even know what county I’m from.

    On that note, I will disregard any further posts from you.

    (Moderator, if the previous post should be allowed to stand, my reply should also.)

    [Reply: Putting quotation marks around the comments you’re responding to would be helpful. ~dbs, Mod.]

  118. Let’s find some sense of proportion here. Sure the journalists are not experts in matters radiological (or usually anything else) and sure, they tend to sensationalize. Who here just fell off the turnip truck and didn’t know that? Read history, our U.S. history or any history and, and where ever freedom of the press is allowed, you’ll always find examples of journalistic excess. You’ll also see that the fourth estate plays a very important role, important though not perfect, in showcasing the abuses of power where concentrations of power exist: political, corporate, religious, intellectual.
    I think the hatred of the MSM and bashing of same is shows an ignorance of history and human imperfection, and an ideological bent to blame or demonize others rather than solve problems. I was astounded how many here wanted to trivialize the nuclear disaster in Japan 10 days ago by comparing it with bananas. I am astounded that now into the third week of the disaster some pollyanna posters would still rather bash journalism and greens and anyone on their political hate list rather than make a helpful contribution. This is a catastrophic emergency. Three Mile Island was a blip compared to this. No one was injured there, and after 4 days the emergency was practically over. I think CNN (and most of the other MSM that I follow) have done a credible job most of the last two weeks. I am not a green or an alarmist of any kind. When I owned a company that did radon testing and mitigation in the 1980’s, I took a course in Health Physics, so I understand that. When Professor Bernie Cohen (who discovered the high levels of radon in many houses in the 80’s) of the University of Pittsburg did a statistical (zip code) study in the early 90’s and found no correlation between the areas of in-house high radon levels and health effects, I disbanded my company because crying wolf when there is little or no threat is dishonest. In Japan right now there is are multiple catastrophes including a nuclear threat of unknown proportions. We don’t know what the outcome is. Let’s not be naive about journalism or dishonest about the threat.

  119. Last link – I’ve found the 10 million times original here: http://whatreallyhappened.com/categorty/fukushima-disaster

    On post March 27, 08:11 – with the observation on it “Note the comment about how the materials only created by fission are being found. This means one of two things. Either the reactor cores are now confirmed as breached, and/or the fuel rods in the reactors and spent fuel pools are undergoing uncontrolled fission. Given the increasing levels of radiation, I would conclude the latter.”

    Thank you for that very clear explanation, Francisco. I had been trying to get my head around the implications from the post with the diagram and got as far as working out that per hour wasn’t being taken into consideration, but my mind baulked at having to work out what that meant in the confusion of millis and micros and greys and rems..

  120. Regarding management of the initial cooling:
    It’s my understanding that the battery back-up power system worked just fine for 8 hours right after the diesel engines were flooded out and quit. That battery power kept the cooling system working… I’m guessing until about 10pm Friday night.

    That sounds like a DC system. Flying generators in to keep a charge on the batteries to keep the cooling going seems the easiest immediate solution and a no-brainer.

    Since it was a Friday afternoon/evening and heading into the weekend, and communications were spotty or non-existent from the “quake-unami”, and the main commercial suppliers of generators may have started closing for the weekend and the message was “closed, call back on Monday”… Finding the owners may have been difficult or maybe even “impolite to be calling them at home”. A declaration of emergency would have been in order to acquire the appropriate generators. Even the militaries there might have had some available… were they asked?

    Why generators were not flown in as a “National Emergency” is a puzzle to me.
    Did I hear some were shipped in but the wrong plug? That’s an easy workaround….
    Was it because of the weekend? Somehow this easy fix was bobbled.
    Show me the blueprints, I’ll tell you what you needed to make it work.
    And I know… hindsight is 20-20…

    Also, with 6 reactors, that’s 6 separate cooling stations, and even more with the spent fuel pools. Quite a challenge even if everything had gone smoothly.
    Best regards to all of you in Japan, keep safe.

  121. Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl…. worldwide network of radiation detectors….. show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.

    Video of plume:

  122. Not only are the dangers of low dose ionising radiation exaggerated, however. The experimental radiobiological evidence points consistently and repeatedly to a significant POSITIVE HEALTH EFFECT of doses in the range below about 100 mGy. (The use of Sieverts is a red herring here since for low-LET radiation that accounts for most exposure from nuclear accidents such as Fukushima, the quality factor = 1 therefore Grays = Sieverts. Plus doses are more or less whole body. It is only where neutron or alpha particle radiation are a significant factor that it is necessary to use Sieverts. Thus Gy (joule per kg absorbed energy) is the more transparent and logical unit.) The health-positive effects of low dose radiation consist principally of immune stimulation and concomitant tumour suppression. A small sample of the voluminous literature in support of this is summarised below:

    (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 can be summarised as follows:

    (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.

  123. i frequent this site daily for alternative views on climate change and always appreciate and respect the commentary that you make in your articles. But in all honesty, this commentary on this particular article is just flat out bogus. I understand how you might think the nuclear disaster could be taking away from the plight of the japanese people due to the earthquake and tsunami, but what does any of that have to do with the nuclear disaster itself? I don’t think you’re in the position to comment on the current nature of the radiation being release, nor the rate and nor the amount. I don’t believe I remember you mentioning that you build nuclear power plants in your spare time or that you are a nuclear energy expert. The true nature of what is going on in Japan can’t be accurately assessed because Japanese officials, just like Russian officials during the Chernobyl disaster, are withholding information regarding the true scope of the disaster. One simply has to use common sense and video footage review to know that, this isn’t a walk in the park and it shouldn’t be undermined with passive aggressive commentary. With 1 million deaths being attributed to the Chernobyl disaster worldwide, you can’t nor could you ever make ANY sort of estimation about how many people will be affected world wide by this. I’m very disappointed in the ignorance that went into this article and have come to expect better from this site. Thank you.

  124. You Can View Official EPA Radiation Readings

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/03/you-can-view-official-epa-radiation.html

    Friday, March 18, 2011
    You Can View Official EPA Radiation Readings

    Update: The EPA’s servers have either been crashed by too much traffic generated by this post, or the EPA has taken down the radiation data. Check back later to see if the EPA’s servers are working.

    Please note that the radiation readings I looked at were NORMAL when the site was still up.

    As I’ve previously noted, the San Jose Mercury News reports:

    EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA’s regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency’s written statement would stand on its own.

    Critics said the public needs more information.

    “It’s disappointing,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don’t want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money.”

    Many people assume that – if you can’t find your own geiger counter – you don’t have many choices, other than relying on vague government announcements or scattered sources of information.

    However, even if the EPA won’t publicly discuss radiation levels, we can go look at the EPA’s numbers ourselves. … and we don’t need Anonymous to hack into the EPA’s site to do it.

    Specifically:

    1. Click on the following link: https://cdxnode64.epa.gov/radnet-public/query.do

    2.In the bottom right box labeled “Fixed Monitor Location”, click on the location of the monitor that you want to see results from

    3. In the lower left box labeled “Time Range Criteria”, specify the date range for the desired radiation readings

    4. The upper left box labeled “Available Parameters” gives various beta and gamma radiation readings. Highlight as many as parameters as you wish. Click the right arrow (to the right) to put them in the “Selected Parameters” box, or the double right arrow to select all.

    5. Hit the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen. If there are no results, hit the back button on your browser, select ” Deployable Monitor List” to the right of “Monitor Type”, and then manually highlight one of the monitors in the “Deployable Monitor Id” box.

    6. Once you get results, you can create charts or graphs of the information. Just scroll down on the results page to the box labeled “Custom Graphical Plot”, and choose your x-axis. I like “Measurement Start Date/Time”.

    7. Click either the “Scatter Plot” or “Line Graph” button at the bottom of the results page.

  125. Another large aftershock at 6.5 magnitude has hit off Japan’s northeast coast. Timing was 07:23:56 a.m. local Japan time on Monday, March 28, roughly one hour ago as I write this.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usc0002cqa.php

    Now the difficult time begins, as the already weakened reactor structures are jolted by yet another fairly large earthquake. I can only hope that the breached containment structures hold, and don’t release yet more radioactive materials.

    The small hammers I wrote about above have just swung a fairly large hammer.

  126. Not even the most idiotic of estimates suggest Chernobyl caused or will cause 1 million deaths. Try between 4000 and about 250000. The 4000 comes from the WHO the 250000 comes from environmental NGOs. Wiki has a good article on the health effects of Chernobyl and why the disagreements exist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

  127. Roger,

    How desperate are you? If you do know as much as you claim to know about nuclear then you know that the chance of further fuel damage is nearly non existent and the chance of additional breaches, if any exist now, in primary containment are also nearly non existent.

  128. WOW,
    I thought climate science was full of fear and misinformation.

    Radiation level, guesses, have taken it to a new extreme.
    The more I read, the less I know.

  129. @ Doug Badgero on March 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Desperate? Not at all. I’m a sober realist, based on decades of sobering experience in some of the most hazardous chemical and process plants on the planet. I fully recognize that not everyone has had the experiences I’ve had.

    Sure, if everything goes just right there are no problems. If the systems were engineered to the proper standards, built to those standards and verified by independent inspectors, and maintained properly over all the years, things can go pretty well. But even the best in the business have their moments when disaster occurs. These reactors and this company are far from the best in the business — they had a bad design, were not designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake nor a 30 foot tsunami. They had numerous near-misses over the past few years — see my earlier comments about the Wall Street Journal article on mishaps at Fukushima Daiichi.

    I hope you are absolutely correct, that there will be no additional breaches in any of the containment systems.

    However, the engineer in me knows better. I suspect that things are about to get much, much worse. Small breezes in the forest can knock down damaged limbs. Smaller earthquakes do the same thing to damaged nuclear reactors that are already leaking radioactive substances. Or to dams, and bridges, or buildings. It is not simply nuclear power plant containment buildings that have this particular problem.

    Watch for TEPCO to again pull out all the workers and announce that radiation levels are far too high for work to continue.

  130. You seem to think that perfection is required to design and operate these plants. It is not, anymore than it was in any of those myriad of chemical plants you worked in.

    The fuel damage was NOT caused by the earthquake and neither was any damage to the primary containment. Both were caused by heat produced exceeding heat removal capability. You know, or should know based on your claimed expertise, that decay heat is now orders of magnitude less than it was on the day of the quake. You should also know that any hydrogen explosions were caused by high temperature zirc-water reactions. Temperatures that would be difficult to achieve now, even if all cooling were lost, given the current levels of decay heat.

    It is not workmanship that argues against you, it is the laws of physics.

  131. Roger Sowell says:
    March 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    “However, the engineer in me knows better. I suspect that things are about to get much, much worse.”
    ============
    Sounds like they need some engineers.
    Problem solvers.
    Dedicated professionals.
    Armchair quarterbacks, not so much.

  132. After climate science, one of the most corrupt and politicised sciences is epidemiology. This science can be described as the “CAKE OF DEATH”. Why? Everyone dies. The probability of death of any of us therefore = 1. However, epidemiologists are scientists with active hotlines to journalists and politicians, who haggle and fight with eachother for a slice of the cake of death. The aim is to increase the percentage of deaths attributable to theirr pet toxin or hazard or even lifestyle choice. Smoking gets a generous slice, part of which is claimed by passive smoking. Vitamin deficiencies, saturated fats, air pollution, radiation, etc. etc., all claim their slice. But there are only 360 degrees of the cake of death to go round, so this is a zero sum game, a gain by one epidemiologist is a loss to another. The percentage slice of cake that you have obviously affects ones political profile and funding, and therefore epidemiology is a viscious cake-fight.

    Just like global warming has made a fine art of taking natural climate oscillation and trousering it as evidence of catastrophic man-made global warming, so epidemiologists will gladly trouser deaths from any source and corral them into the pen of their particular threat to mankind.

    For example, in the case of the Chernobyl accident, a sharp decrease in life expectancy followed after the Chernobyl accident which precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two things – the sharp economic decline in Ukraine following the Soviet Union breakup shortly after Chernobyl, with declining living standards for many, and an increase in surveillance for cancers and other supposed health effects of radiation, both caused a big rise in recorded incidence in many diseases and deaths, from cancer or otherwise.

    In addition, nearly all the many tens-hundreds of thousands of deaths claimed for Chernobyl, rest on a single highly dubious model assumption, the LNT (linear no threshold) model of radiation carcinogenesis. This assumes a risk of cancer down to zero dose. It is very much in the same category as AGW, since it flies in the face of much contradictory real world data; it is most likely not correct.

    Looking beyond cancers, which are stochastic delayed radiation effects, to the claims of a wide range of diseases to be radiation induced from Chernobyl, there is no possibility, scientifically, for these claims to be true. Where is the scientific evidence for them? Where is the detailed dosimetry, internal and external? Where are the unirradiated controls matched for socio-economic status? No-where.

    There are two types of radiation health effect (leaving aside for now genetic effects and mutagenesis) – stochastic and deterministic. Low doses cause a statistical risk of cancer in the future, but no immediate noticeable effects – these are stochastic effects. There is long delay or induction period between irradiation and subsequent appearence of the cancer from a minimum of 5 years for leukemias to up to 25 years for solid cancers.

    Deterministic effects are clinically evident effects appearing within days or weeks of the irradiation – these include the three classic radiation “syndromes”, haemopoietic, gastrointestinal and central nervous system (CNS). One Gray of irradiation (absorbed joule per kg of ionising energy) will give you haemopoietic, 10 Gy and you get gastrointestinal, 100 Gy and you die quickly (and mercifully) from the CNS synrdome – your brain is fried. The scientific literature on deterministic effects is very consistent in showing thresholds of several Grays for the appearence of these syndromes which result from sufficient radiation damage to affect the functioning of tissues. It is dividing cell populations that are most radio-sensitive, thus the first syndrome is haemo where the dividing marrow cells are affected, then the proliferating gut lining cells being killed causes the gastro sysndrome and so on.

    A handful of Chernobyl workers and firemen died of the CNS syndrome. A few dozen died from haemopoietic and gastrointestinal syndomes. Including also the most highly exposed workers remediating the site such as the heroic minute-men “liquidators” who ran onto the reactor roof for one minute, eyeballing the exposed reactor face-to-face and each to throwing down a few fragments of contaminated reactor core graphite – perhaps 100- or so died of acute radiation effects. These were people whe received more than a Gray or so of radiation.

    Looking out to the wider population in regions contaminated by fallout, the radiation doses fell very sharply. Even in heavily contaminated areas, maximum doses were at worst generally in the tens of milliGrays. The vast majority were in the single digit milliGray or the health-irrelevant micro-Gray level. One exception was children exposed to radioactive iodine and contracting thyroid cancer. There were several hundred cases in the 3-4 years following the accident in the affected regions, up from a baseline level of a handful per year – these cancers were uniquivocally induced by Chernobyl radiation. One of the volatile radionuclides from a breached reactor is iodine in two isotopes, I-131 (8 day halflife) and I-133 (20 hour halflife). These isotopes of iodine exposed populations to doses up to a Gy to the thyroid, since iodine is concentrated in the thyroid (a gland in your neck) where it is used to synthesise the growth regulating hormone thyroxine. Thus the distribution of iodine tablets to “dilute” intake of radio-iodine with stable iodine and keep it out of the thyroid competitively.

    However, disappointingly for the catastrophists, very few of these children died. With the great upsurge in medical surveillance and care of people in the region following Chernobyl, and great inputs from clinicians in the USA and elsewhere, the thyroid cancers, which are a highly treateable cancer when caught in time, were successfully treated in the majority of these children – I think only a small handful died. It should be made clear that these cancers were not low dose stochastic cancers – they apeared too quickly for that. They were caused by high – Gy level – doses and resultant actual tissue damage and irritation.

    These child thyroid cancers are the ONLY cancer population that can unequivocally be linked to Chernobyl.

    There was NO excess statistically of leukemias following Chernobyl in the contaminated regions (and therefore none anywhere). None. Nada. Zilch. A very particular type and spatial distribution of ionising radiation tracks across haemopoietic marrow cavities is required for leukemia induction (Sr-90 is ideal for leukemogenesis, but not I or Cs or even Pu, Am and other actinides although Am241 has some efficacy due to its secondary 60 kV de-excitation x-ray). This is interesting -leukemia is the type of cancer people usually associate with and expect from radiation exposures; there were none from Chernobyl. (But the Japan bomb survivors got them – they got the right type of radiation.)

    In summary: the relation between radiation doses received (from human and animal studies where those doses are well known) is abundantly sufficient for it to be clear that these claims of the type of tissue level diseases requiring several Grays of radiation, to be suffered by many tens of thousands in the wider Ukrainian population due to Chernobyl, are utterly impossible. The radiation doses are nowhere near enough. Also – many of the diseases spuriously attributed to Chernobyl radiation have no experimental or evidential basis for being radiation induced. Some diseases claimed for Chernobyl radiation by the Ukrainian ministry of Chernobyl in a report include:

    “diseases of the endocrine system” – only the few hundred children with thyroid cancer qualify fot this – they mostly survived
    “diseases of the nervous system” – no, CNS syndrome requiring tens to hundreds of Gy afffected a small handful of Chernobyl workers only
    “..of the circulation system” – requires doses above 1 Gy, received by a few dozen liquidators and firemen
    “.. of the digestive organs” – gastrointestinal syndrome was suffered by a dozen or so workers and firemen
    “..of the cutaineous and subcutaneous tissue” – what does this mean?? literally it means the whole body? Skin is partly dead and very radiation insensitive except for burns with a few Gy. Fat has very low radiosensitivity.
    “.. of the muscolo-skeletal system” – not very radiosensitive except bone marrow – that is the haemopoietic syndrome;
    “psychological dysfunctions” – not connected with radiation exposure. CNS syndrome kills you (fries your brain) and does not otherwise change your behaviour.

    Rigorous scientific investigation of radiation carcinogenesis and pathology, reveals it to be on no firmer ground than CAGW. Radiation biology needs its Steve McKintyre.

  133. mike g says:
    March 27, 2011 at 8:44 am
    And, Francisco, any idea what the size of the big one everyone is worried about in CA is? Well, this one was 50 times bigger than that. If a 9.0 quake were to happen within 100 miles of Diablo Canyon, that plant would be the least of everybody’s problems.
    ==============
    There was a monster 9.0 earthquake in Oregon 311 years ago. If/when it happens again, a nuclear plant ccould be “the least of everybody’s problems”but only if nothing goes wrong with the plant. If it does, it will be one more huge problem to deal with on top of all the other huge problems.
    This piece of news on the Oregon big one appeared two years ago:

    http://www.kval.com/news/38389664.html

    Summary
    At 9 p.m. on Jan. 26, 1700 AD, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit a fault running from Northern California to Southern British Columbia, causing untold damage and destruction to the Pacific Northwest coast and Native American tribal communities.

  134. The only apocalypse is that our world is now inhabited primarily by a bunch of cowardly, uneducated, man hating, fear driven babies who don’t have even the slightest idea what poses a real danger.

    A far greater danger is losing our political will to act rationally and to provide for our energy needs in the most reasonable and cost effective way. That should include nuclear. I’m disgusted that we no longer live in the world of heroes and engineers that built the underpinnings of everything we have today.

  135. Phil,

    Ahem, I refer you to the excellent post above by “phlogiston”. In particular, you might want to look up what is meant by the “linear no threshold” reference and how wrong that is for radiation exposure. The problem is these “scientists” don’t tell you that there is no statistical integrity to their arguments. We know much more than we did 50 years ago but we ignore most of it because it does not fit into our view of the world. For some inexplicable reason we want to believe low level radiation exposure is more dangerous than it is.

  136. Comparisons between anthropogenic global warming alarmism and worries about nuclear plant safety are rather outlandish. We know that once you lose control of the cooling of a nuclear reactor, it is hard to get it back. We know that the effects of sustained high levels of radiation have very undesirable effects on living things. We know that big earthquakes and tsunamis happen. We had a major mess in 1986 that resulted in the evacuation of a fairly large area that will remain uninhabitable for a long time. And on the other hand we have no clue, really, about the global temperature effects of a slight increase in CO2 atmospheric concentrations, and we have good reasons to believe it is small.
    Likewise, comparisons between the media treatment of these two topics are off. The media is clearly, and often rabidly anti-skeptic in climate matters. But I don’t see that the media has a clear leaning for or against nuclear power. I mean, come on, they don’t run dozens of stories every day of the year speculating about how nuclear power is the cause of every problem on Earth. They are covering this story NOW because something rather worrisome is happening in that nuclear plant. To listen to many people here, the only acceptable coverage would be no coverage at all, or just something along the lines of “this is nothing to worry about”. Go tell that to the people in the area.
    Likewise, comparisons between a nuclear accident and natural catastrophes are way off, as they systematically leave out the time component. An earthquake or a tsunami hits, and the next day you can start cleaning up and rebuilding. An area gets badly contaminated with radiation, and your only option is to abandon the area for a very very long time. For all purposes, it’s as if the catastrophe was unrepairable. There IS a difference.

  137. Patt said on March 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm:

    @ doug

    the cumulative death toll to date since the disaster is around 1 million finds a new study. this can be cited from a few different places, i like prisonplanet, so here you are:|

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/harmless-chernobyl-radiation-killed-nearly-one-million-people.html

    It’s not a study, it’s a book, has its own brand-new Wikipedia entry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl:_Consequences_of_the_Catastrophe_for_People_and_the_Environment

    It started off as a 2007 book that was a collection of assorted papers, then translated from Russian in 2009. It’s put out by the New York Academy of Sciences, cough up some serious dough to own a copy.

    Good info about the book and its merits here:

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/04/is-chernobyl-consequences-of.html

    Valuable Info from the book mentioned at Wikipedia:

    It found deaths approaching a million through 2004, nearly 170,000 of them in North America.

    One Hundred Seventy Thousand People dead from Chernobyl in North America Alone!!!

    Gee, I must have missed the press release…

  138. Francisco,

    “We know that once you lose control of the cooling of a nuclear reactor, it is hard to get it back.” There is no basis in fact for this statement. Why do you believe we know this?

    “We know that the effects of sustained high levels of radiation have very undesirable effects on living things.” We likewise no this about arsenic, mercury, and a long list of other toxins. Radiation is energy, when that energy is deposited in living tissue it can do damage up to and including death. Why is this treated differently than any other industrial hazard? Toxins deposited on the ground can cause long term damage be they long lived radioactive isotopes or stable chemical toxins. Why is it we think we can’t manage radioactive material just as we manage other industrial hazards? Each has its own unique hazards and those hazards can be and are managed.

    The problem I have with the media is there ignorance about low level radiation exposure and what could credibly occur. As others have pointed out, it is unlikely anyone will die due to radiation exposure due to this event. This includes workers at the plant.

  139. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    “Patt said on March 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm:

    @ doug
    the cumulative death toll to date since the disaster is around 1 million finds a new study. this can be cited from a few different places, i like prisonplanet, so here you are:|

    [stuff deleted]

    Valuable Info from the book mentioned at Wikipedia:

    It found deaths approaching a million through 2004, nearly 170,000 of them in North America.

    One Hundred Seventy Thousand People dead from Chernobyl in North America Alone!!!”

    Wow, with references from both prisonplanet and wikipedia saying it’s true, then surely it must be.

  140. Doug Badgero says:
    March 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    “For some inexplicable reason we want to believe low level radiation exposure is more dangerous than it is.”

    Put a hard number on this “level” and length of exposure, Doug.

  141. @ Doug Badgero on March 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Presuming that comment was directed at me, I hope you are right that no more radiation will leak. Physics does indeed indicate that — IF EVERYTHING WENT ACCORDING TO PLAN — that the heat generation is less now than it was several days ago. But, can you or anyone else guarantee that no meltdown occurred? Is all the fuel where it belongs, inside the fuel rods? Is there no radioactive water pooled in the bottom of the system, where it can leak out? The answer is, of course, no one knows. There SHOULD be not much residual heat produced 17 days after the shutdown. Time will tell.

    What sober engineers do is plan for the worst, then operate to the best point possible, and make long and detailed contingency plans in case things don’t go as expected. We also schedule and run practice drills — but safely, not where something is actually blown apart or blown up. There’s a good article in today’s Washington Post on the conditions in the damaged nuclear plants. “Hellish” is the word they used.

  142. The atomic bomb survivor cancer threshold was 100-200 mSv (10-20 Rem) acute exposure. I would somewhat arbitrarily define acute exposure to that received over a 7 day period. I base this on a very unscientific estimate on how long the body takes to repair cellular damage. Obviously, in reality in would depend on the person and the nature of the damage. Certainly I would say it is less than 1 month though.

    One thing low level definitely is is the few mSv received by anyone other than those very close to the disaster.

  143. From Daryl M on March 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm:

    Wow, with references from both prisonplanet and wikipedia saying it’s true, then surely it must be.

    Yup, you get it.

    They’re attributing 170,000 North American deaths to Chernobyl?

    For the US (reference):

    Cancer death rates dropped 19.2% among men during 1990-2005 and 11.4% among women during 1991-2005. Cancer incidence rates are also on the decline – they decreased 1.8% per year among men from 2001-2005 and 0.6% per year from 1998-2005 among women.

    Strangely enough, “reduced radioactivity from Chernobyl fallout” is not specified as a possible reason for the decline. Ah, what the hell, the “million deaths from Chernobyl” people might as well claim it anyway, it all has about the same basis in scientific fact.

  144. Sigh. I had promised myself not to make any comments today.

    From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8408863/Japan-tsunami-Fukushima-Fifty-the-first-interview.html

    …the first explosion, at reactor 3 on March 14, happened at the precise moment that six soldiers from the Japanese Central Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Defence Unit arrived at the reactor in two vehicles. The six of them are now dead, buried under flying concrete. (emphasis added)

    From: http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110327-2-1.pdf

    3. Injury due to the explosion of Unit 3 of Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS
    – Four TEPCO’s employees
    – Three subcontractor employees
    Four members of Self-Defence Force (one of them was transported to National Institute of Radiological Sciences considering internal possible exposure. The examination resulted in no internal exposure. The member was discharged from the institute on March 17th.) (emphasis added)

    @Roger Sowell says(March 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm ):

    But, can you or anyone else guarantee that no meltdown occurred? Is all the fuel where it belongs, inside the fuel rods?

    Please read: http://www.shimbun.denki.or.jp/en/news/20110324_01.html. That seems to me to be one of the best and most detailed descriptions of what happened at Three Mile Island. If I understand Dr. Ishikawa properly, then I would think that the cores of reactors #1, #2 and #3 melted as he described within 32 to 72 hours after the tsunami. Dr. Ishikawa also explains, in his words:

    … the melting temperature (of the melted core) is not the generally referred melting point of uranium dioxide, i.e., 2,800°C, but is said to be close to 2,300°C that is the melting point of a ternary alloy of uranium, zirconium and oxygen. As concrete cannot be melted at this temperature, China Syndrome does not happen. (parenthetical comment and emphasis added).

    So, it would seem that the cores melted a long time ago, and have been cooling ever since. As reported in several different places, the water level in the reactors is somewhere between 1.2 and 2.3 meters below where the top of the cores used to be. Accordingly, I would think there is a good chance that what is left of the three cores may now be completely under water, which would be a good thing.

    Furthermore, the discovery that radioactive water puddles have formed in the basements of the turbine buildings may also be a GOOD THING. Why? Please refer to the following study, titled Assessment of BWR Main Steam Line Release Consequences by John N. Ridgely and prepared for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2002: http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/DocContent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^pbntad01&LogonID=5d44503dea2a82493ae18401c9d75e3d&id=062980113

    Paraphrasing it states that steam from the reactor vessel can leak through valves in the steam lines used to isolate the reactor from the turbines, and that such leakage would ultimately come out the turbine seals into the turbine building and then, presumably, outside. This may have been happening since shortly after the tsunami, but, until just a day or so ago, the turbine buildings were apparently dry. I suspect that the water that has been found just recently may be condensate from this steam leakage. If so, this might mean that the temperature of this escaping steam may now have come down enough for condensate to form and that would mean that the cores (or what is left of them) may finally be cooling down. However, that is just a guess on my part.

    @Doug Badgero on March 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm:

    I assume that you were referring to Patt on March 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm.

  145. Chernobyl – how to find it on google. Look a little north of Kiev and you see a big round area without any towns. There used to be towns, cities, and villages there. In fact the buildings are still there. Try google maps – zoom in north of Kiev. Very green towns appear – overly green, overly grown – and NO cars. No people either. Regardless of the death toll, hundreds of square miles are uninhabited – could people live there – probably; will they – not if there’s a choice.

    Now Russia can maybe sustain losing a thousand square miles of prime land. I doubt Japan can. I suspect at a minimum all savings Japan has ever garnered from nuclear power are already wiped out. That plant is now surely a total loss. The real question is will tsunami land even be inhabitable. The loss of life due to the earthquake is tragic – but not being able to rebuild or worse not being able to reinhabit is the mega disaster.

    Panic isn’t really in order, but only because radiation is so slow. But it lasts, and it chases people away. Anyone discounting this because it is insufficiently deadly is really missing the point. A relatively similar blow to the US would be if Washington and Oregon became uninhabitable and unusable. We would survive, but we would be diminished.

  146. From what I’ve read the sheaths the uranium pellets are in and which form the fuel rods, are melting. The sheath melts at a temperature far lower than the pellets, themselves. So that exposes the pellets to the cooling liquid which is water. That’s not good. That liquid in the reactor is intended to boil and it is up to the water pumps to manage the temperature at a certain pressure. Normally that energy is used to generate electricity but that’s all finished.

    The earthquake hit and the reactors scrammed. The damping rods were pushed up into position to block neutrons and quench the nuclear fire. But there is a lot of mass in there that is still quite hot, and the damping rods damp but don’t put out the nuclear fires. It is therefor critical to continue to move heat away from the core. This is normally the steam that turns the wheel as they used to say on steam ships, but once a reactor is scrammed all the heat has to be transferred to the environment because none of the energy is used to produce electricity. That is a total loss heat removal system. Every excess watt has to be put into the ocean, actually. And for that to happen the pumps need to pump. They’re not.

    Now we have a problem. There is enough latent heat in the reactor to boil the water enough to create an over-pressure condition. To relieve that they must release the steam from the core. This has two ominous side effects. When water is exposed to fusion it breaks down into its constituent parts – hydrogen and oxygen. When you release the steam there is less water left behind, and what is left behind doesn’t stop boiling which of course requires releasing the steam again. And with it, hydrogen and oxygen. This was released into the outer shell – that is the building that exploded. The hydrogen and oxygen reformed to produce water and blew the building to hell.

    And the core is running out of water. The solution is to add more water but hang on, it is under pressure because it is heated by that nuclear furnace that is still burning. There’s not power to create the pressure needed to force cooling water into the reactor core. Now what?

    What happens next is the water level drops below the tops of the fuel rods and they start to warm up. And there’s nothing to take away the heat. So the sheaths melt and the pellets fall out onto the rest of the reactor or drop to the floor of the reactor. A little of this is a bad thing! Any steam released now has byproducts of direct exposure to uranium. Hot, scintillating uranium.

    So assuming a miracle happens and power becomes available to force cooling water into the reactor to cool it, what happens next? It requires a steam release which causes another hydrogen gas explosion. And bad things happen when you hit hot neutrons with cold water. Google it. Oh – and those pellets that fell out of the sheaths? They’re oxidizing. That creates a trace particle that can be tested for and which is the tell-tale that a core meltdown is under way. That has been detected.

    The good news is after a time, with replenished water, the core can cool to a safe level. The bad news is those control rods that were jacked into place in the scram don’t last for ever. Even worse news is the spaces they occupy are perhaps filled with uranium pellets, and retracting a spent damping rod for replacement may result in a situation where a new rod cannot be put back in place. And those rods are the only thing that prevents the China Syndrome – a fictitious but useful description of what happens in a super meltdown. In a super meltdown a large number of sheaths melt and the pellets fall to the bottom of the reactor and sizzle. There is not enough fuel or density to create a runaway nuclear explosion, but the heat generated is unstoppable by anything in the reactor, and the fuel will liquefy and melt through the bottom.

    The reactor belly pan is designed to deal with this. As the bottom melts way the fuel will be scattered round a large area, reducing the density, lowering the temperature, and the nuclear fire will go out. Maybe. But if anything unanticipated foils that, such as a wicking action by debris dangling down the meltout hole and drawing gobs of liquid uranium into a new dense pool, the next stop is China – well, that doesn’t work in Japan, so the next stop is Venezuela. Hence the name China Syndrome. The cute notion that the uranium will melt all the way to the other side of the planet. That can’t happen, but in the worst case scenario it can get out of the reactor complex and run down hill to the ocean.

    Probably won’t happen.

  147. Lee says:
    March 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm
    “Now Russia can maybe sustain losing a thousand square miles of prime land.”

    It’s called the Ukraine.

  148. Francisco says:
    March 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm
    “Back in 1990 the Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation estimated that 1 out of 100 people “would likely develop solid cancer or leukemia from an exposure of 100 millisievert of radiation over a lifetime with half of those cases being fatal.””

    “Please note the words “over a lifetime” We were talking of 100 mSv per year, not per life time. Assuming average lifetimes of 70 years, a radiation of 100 mSv/yr would be 70 times stronger than 100mSv per lifetime. It all depends how long you are exposed to it, of course.”

    So 100 mSv increases the lifetime cancer risk by 1/1,000; so, from about 20% to 20.1 %. Thanks.

    “Consider further that the figure of 1,000 mSv *per hour* being measured near the reactor is nearly 9 million mSv per year, or if you prefer, it is 87,600 Times stronger than 100 mSv per year and some 6 million times stronger than 100 mSv per lifetime.”

    Looks like a guy made a wrong reading while in haste.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12877198

    So, can i continue bashing journalists now?
    (Not the BBC, they did fine in this case; but some German media still have foam on their mouth…)

  149. From Lee on March 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm:

    Chernobyl – how to find it on google.

    Grab the coordinates from the Wikipedia Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant entry: 51°23′22.39″N 30°05′56.93″E. Punch it into the Search bar on Google Maps: link. Voila.

    Lee:

    Look a little north of Kiev and you see a big round area without any towns. There used to be towns, cities, and villages there. In fact the buildings are still there.

    That’s the Exclusion Zone (Wikipedia entry). Here is a 1996 map. Notice the map doesn’t show that many places north of the plant, and on the Google map north-northwest of the plant is a symbol for a park or reserve (pine tree). There doesn’t seem to have been that much around the plant to begin with, just mostly small places. Zone entry:

    This predominantly rural woodland area was once home to 120,000 people, living in 90 communities (including the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat), but is now mostly uninhabited. All settlements remain designated on geographic maps but marked as nezhyl. (нежил.) – “uninhabited”.

    Lee:

    Try google maps – zoom in north of Kiev. Very green towns appear – overly green, overly grown – and NO cars. No people either.

    Zone entry:

    Approximately 3,000 workers are employed within the Zone of Alienation. Employees technically do not live inside the zone, but work shifts. 75% of the workers work 4-3 shifts (four days on, three off) and 25% work 15 days on, 15 off, as of 2009. The duration of shifts is strictly counted regarding the person’s pension and healthcare issues. Everyone employed within the zone is monitored for internal bioaccumulation of radioactive elements.

    The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located inside the Zone of Alienation but is administered separately. Plant personnel, 3,800 workers as of 2009, reside primarily in Slavutych, a specially-built remote city in the Kiev Oblast, 45 km (28 mi) east of the accident site.

    Lee:

    Regardless of the death toll, hundreds of square miles are uninhabited – could people live there – probably; will they – not if there’s a choice.

    Zone entry:

    Thousands of residents refused to be evacuated from the zone or illegally returned there later. Over the decades this primarily elderly population has dwindled, falling below 400 in 2009. Approximately half of these resettlers live in the town of Chernobyl; others are spread in villages across the zone. After recurrent attempts at expulsion, the authorities became reconciled to their presence and even allowed limited supporting services for them. The population also includes some vagabonds and other marginalized persons from the outside world. These people (known as “samosely“, literally translated as “self-settlers”, i.e., squatters) declare their strong commitment to the surrounding nature and rural lifestyle. Samosely usually deny or are resigned to any significant damage to their health resulting from the high levels of radiation in the environment.

    Lee:

    Now Russia can maybe sustain losing a thousand square miles of prime land. I doubt Japan can.

    Note: 1000 square miles is the area of a circle with a radius of just 17.84 miles (28.73 km).

    Lee:

    I suspect at a minimum all savings Japan has ever garnered from nuclear power are already wiped out. That plant is now surely a total loss.

    The earthquake and tsunami, that made a lot of expensive damage. The Fukushima plant hasn’t done anything close, but it will be expensive for the plant owner to clean up.

    Lee:

    The real question is will tsunami land even be inhabitable. The loss of life due to the earthquake is tragic – but not being able to rebuild or worse not being able to reinhabit is the mega disaster.

    I don’t see why not. It’s a mess of mud and devastation, it’ll take quite awhile, but the Japanese are adept at reclaiming and rebuilding. Just look at what they did with the “uninhabitable nuclear wastelands” known as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Lee:

    Panic isn’t really in order, but only because radiation is so slow. But it lasts, and it chases people away. Anyone discounting this because it is insufficiently deadly is really missing the point.

    Like in “uninhabitable nuclear wastelands” like the Exclusion Zone and the abandoned “ghost town” of Pripyat (Wikipedia entry)?

    Pripyat entry:

    A natural concern is whether it is safe to visit Pripyat and the surroundings. The Zone of Alienation is considered relatively safe to visit, and several Ukrainian companies offer guided tours around the area. The radiation levels have dropped considerably, compared to the fatal levels of April 1986 due to the decay of the short-lived isotopes released during the accident. In most places within the city, the level of radiation does not exceed equivalent dose of 1 μSv (one microsievert) per hour.

    The city and the Zone of Alienation are now bordered with guards and police, but obtaining the necessary documents to enter the zone is not considered particularly difficult. In 2005, a New York based entrepreneur David C. Haines founded a company to provide guided tours of the city. A guide will accompany visitors to ensure nothing is vandalised or taken from the zone. The doors of most of the buildings are held open to reduce the risk to visitors, and almost all of them can be visited when accompanied by a guide. The city of Chernobyl, located a few kilometers south from Pripyat, has some accommodations including a hotel, many apartment buildings, and a local lodge, which are maintained as a permanent residence for watch-standing crew, and tourists.

    You can tell how worried various media types are about the lingering radiation:

    # The city of Pripyat is the location of filming of the 2008 documentary White Horse.[citation needed]
    # The short film The Door was shot in 2008 in Prypiat.[5]
    # The 2009 documentary-style music video This Momentary by British music group Delphic was mostly shot in Pripyat.

    Looks like there’ll be some hot spots to address, near the plant there’ll definitely have to be some serious cleanup… But within the Exclusion Zone the wildlife is flourishing, which invites hunting. The area previously supported a rural lifestyle, farming opportunities are there. Experts, armchair and otherwise, may think it’ll be hundreds of years until people can safely return. I’ll give it 30 to 50 years before humans largely resettle the area, finding it to be “safe enough.”

  150. The cavalier attitude of some of the contributors to this topic to loss of human life and suffering is sickening. “Only a 100 or so” of the workers trying to stop Chernobyl from poisoning the entire Ukraine died? Sure, that’s nothing to worry about. And the fact that they all died a gruwesome death (remember that guy Litvinenko?) is apparently fine also for some people.
    I guess some people are so entrenched in their views that no argument whatsoever can sway them from the position that nuclear power is the salvation of the human race and radiation is harmless (even benefial!). And that reminds me of another one of WUWT favorite topics.

  151. phlogiston –

    Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Evironment by Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, Alexey V. Nesterenko

    “Page 177
    6.3 Cancer of the Blood-Leukemia

    Radiogenic leukemia was detected in Hiroshim and Nagasaki a few months after the bombing and morbidity peaked in 5 years. The latency period for radiogenic leukemia is several months to years with the highest incidence occurring between 6 and 8 years after exposure (Sinclair, 1996). Owing to the secrecy and the official falsification of data that continued for 3 years after the catastrophe (see Chapter 3 for details), unknown numbers of leukemia cases in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were not included in any registry. These distortions should be kept in mind when analyzing the following data.”

    In the Soviet system if you’re a doctor and told to attribute a medical condition to a cause other than the radiation from Chernobyl, you do it. Hence the catch-all ‘nervous because of fear of radiation’ so prominent in the white wash. Obviously not fear from seeing those around you dying in great number of various cancers and bearing physically and mentally deformed children, but some irrational fear because this great disaster had only a minor effect on health..

    Which statistics would you really prefer to be using for your analysis, the massaged by vested interests to deliberately and cynically downplay the effects of radiation, or the statistics mostly unknown from the local people actually affected by this?

    Extrapolate:

    #Doctor Smolnikova checks baby Christina’s heart through her stethoscope, and advises Valia on the chances of an operation.

    She has a long list of other patients like them.

    “Those who say there is no link with Chernobyl should open their eyes and look at the medical statistics,” Doctor Smolnikova says.

    She has been the village doctor here since long before the nuclear disaster.

    “Before Chernobyl I’d never seen a child with cancer. Now it’s common.

    “I treat many more children now with heart defects and kidney damage. To say it’s nothing to do with Chernobyl just isn’t honest.”#

    From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4485003.stm

    I don’t know how old you are, but I ask again, how many of the children you went to school with had cancer or diabetes? How many from your parents schooldays?

    Why is there this new meme going the rounds, that low level radiation is good for you? Because of so many potential sites of contamination from releasing radiation on a day to day basis in the proliferation of nuclear reactors around the world?

    But back to Chernobyl, read this carefully: http://tech.mit.edu/V112/N20/chernobyl.20w.html

    Extrapolate from it to the rest of the millions in the fall out area and to your information gathering experience.

    Cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disease etc. rates have been rising dramatically in the 20th century, why is this elephant in the room of nuclear radiation so studiously ignored as a cause, when it is the ONE actually known direct cause of such illnesses?

    Belarus received some 70% of the fallout. Their orphanages were full of sick and deformed children whose parents had died from the fallout, ask the charity workers who delivered aid what the real conditions were like. http://www.belarus-misc.org/bel.corg.htm

    Read this letter published in the British Medical Journal in 1994: http://bmj.com/content/309/6964/1298.extract

    This downplaying of the effects, this criminal cover up, has been polished since then, more organised, from the highest levels of ‘trustworthy’ sources (WHO) and totally biased sources (See the Huffington post link on the new study 3MI..) You can continue adding to that deceit or, as the good doctor above said, you can open your eyes.

  152. DirkH says:
    March 28, 2011 at 1:27 am
    Looks like a guy made a wrong reading while in haste.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12877198

    ————–
    No, the reading of 1,000 mSv/hr appears in all these articles featuring the retraction, including the one you link above. They say the reading was confirmed.

    The rest depends on your definition of “normal”. If you take normal to mean normal background radiation, which is about 0.00023mSv, then the reading is over 4 million times above normal.
    If you take normal to mean within the level of what is considered “safe”, then that’s another matter. And what’s considered “safe” varies depending on circumstances and urgency and exposure time.

    However you look at it, 1,000 mSv/hr is a frighteningly high amount of radiation.

    With a dose of 3 Sieverts you have a 50% chance of dying:

    http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/physics10/old%20physics%2010/physics%2010%20notes/radiation.html

    1,000 mSv/hr, means you will get 3 Sieverts in only 3 hours of exposure.
    5-6 Sieverts will most liekly kill you.

  153. There is a severely damaged reactor containing significant amounts of plutonium (MOX) without any significant cooling and no control whatsoever. If there is a possibility that it goes supercritical, that DOES leave a concern for me.

  154. Rob,

    Exactly what power source do you believe is risk free? Comparing fatalities in the energy supply chain nuclear is much safer than just about any other source. e.g. between 1970 and 2005 31000+ died as a direct result of coal and 30000+ died due to hydro. Nuclear it was 31 all at Chernobyl. Latent fatalities bring these numbers to 4000 for nuclear and nearly 200000 for hydro. If you believe the US EPA latent fatalities for coal are 600000+ in this same timeframe.

    Your argument is fact free and baseless.

  155. >>Rob
    >>Sure, that’s nothing to worry about. And the fact that they all died a
    >>gruwesome death (remember that guy Litvinenko?) is apparently
    >>fine also for some people.

    There is nothing ‘fine’ about it, but danger and death is a fact of life that Greens and those in sheltered government and administration jobs desperately try to deny. Construction, engineering, mining, and nuclear power will always be dangerous jobs, because of the nature of these industries.

    Google the number of coal mining deaths, which were running at 6,000 a year until recently. That is the nature of the risks taken to provide you and me with a comfortable life, especially for those who wirk in a nice safe office and take no risk themselves.

    Do we close down all of civilisation, because a few workers were killed? I am afraid that life has always been that way, and always will. Ever since a Neolithic hunter failed to return from a expedition, risks have been taken so that the community as a whole can live in greater comfort. Those who deny this not only deny reality, they are a threat to our continued survival as a species.

    .

  156. >>Frank
    >>There is a severely damaged reactor containing significant amounts
    >>of plutonium (MOX) without any significant cooling and no control
    >>whatsoever. If there is a possibility that it goes supercritical, that
    >>DOES leave a concern for me.

    If you imply that it can explode in a nuclear explosion, then please withdraw that comment forthwith. The fuel is not enriched. It cannot explode.

    .

  157. Myrrh,

    Do you believe that “natural” radiation is somehow safer than “man made”? If you don’t I do not see how you can believe your own writing.

  158. Doug,

    I am, unlike you, not taking any “side” here. I happen to be a longtime proponent of nuclear power, but if you read my texts you will see that pro/contra nuclear is not the point of them. And I don’t believe anything in life is risk free. I drive a motorcycle to work every day, that certainly is not risk free.
    But what I object to is the dismissive talk on this topic about what is in actuality a very serious nuclear accident. Anyone claiming that it is not, basically disqualifies himself in any discussion on a way forward in the energy production of our future.
    And by claiming that my argument, that radiation is not very healthy, that some of the workers at the Fukushima plant are going to get quite ill and that dying of radiation poisoning is not a nice way to go is “fact free and baseless” you’d deserve a red card in any discussion.

  159. The half life of plutonium, it turns out, is a whole lot longer than the entire history of human civilization (24,000 years).

  160. Rob,

    I have been a radiation worker all of my life. As I write I am wearing a thermo luminescent dosimeter to monitor my radiation dose. Although I have spent most of my recent career sitting at a desk or teaching in front of a class. Your claims that Japanese workers will possibly die from the radiation they recieved are not based in fact. Unless of course it is all a giant conspiracy and people have recieved more than the stated limit of 25 REM whole body dose. Those that were exposed in the lower levels of the turbine building received about 17 REM whole body. They probably recieved much more to their legs and I do have some concerns in that regard but the extremities are relatively robust to radiation exposure.

    This is a very serious nuclear accident worse than TMI but no where near as bad as Chernobyl. This is NOT the public or employee health nightmare you are making it out to be. If this were a chemical plant and these people were fighting to mitigate environmental damage from same we wouldn’t even be reading about it.

  161. News just out. Banner link on drudge report.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/radiation-levels-reach-new-highs-as-conditions-worsen-for-workers/2011/03/27/AFsMLFiB_print.html

    Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs
    By Chico Harlan and Brian Vastag, Monday, March 28, 1:35 AM

    Basically the radiation in one of the six turbine rooms has reached 1000mSv/hr which gives a worker his yearly maximum exposure in 15 minutes. Half of those exposed for 4-5 hours would be killed (LD-50).

    In a real “It’s worse than they thought” way:

    The turbine room is outside the containment vessel. Pipes and/or valves between the containment vessel and the turbine failed and primary cooling water is leaking out. The valves could have failed during the intial scram or the pipes could have been damaged by the earthquake or subsequent explosions. The radiation level is far too high to get anyone near enough to fix the leak. There is still the possibility of a complete meltdown as things are not under control yet.

  162. Dave Springer,

    That reading was reported three days ago. It is the reason the three contractors were exposed to high levels on Thursday. It could be from a leak or it could be from the controlled venting they had to do to maintain primary containment pressure early in the accident.

  163. I stand corrected, the earliest report I can find that shows the actual dose rates was yeterday at about noon. These pools of water are what caused the exposures on Thursday. These readings are also at the water’s surface and will drop as you move away.

  164. @Ralph

    I do not imply there will be a nuclear explosion with a mushroom cloud. I am just referring to the slight possibility of reactor 3 developing a self-sustaining chain reaction. In that case super-critical “just” means there are more neutrons released that can be used up somewhere else. (refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_mass).
    And if this happens in an open space without infrastructure or cooling it is definitely not a good thing.
    As I understand the fuel for all type of reactors must be enriched, but of course a lot less than for weapons grade material.

  165. DirkH says:
    March 28, 2011 at 1:27 am
    So 100 mSv increases the lifetime cancer risk by 1/1,000; so, from about 20% to 20.1 %. Thanks.
    ============

    First, it’s 1/100 (not 1/1000) for 100mSv over a lifetime.

    Second, I’ve already told you a couple of times that the cancer comment quoted from the Japanese spokesman in the BBC article referred to a radiation rate of 100 mSv *per year* (normal background is about 2 mSv per year) — not to 100mSv in a lifetime.

  166. Now this is a very interesting article from a contrarian perspective. The author is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk.
    I noticed that the site that carries this (Aletho News) also has the latest WUWT piece on the lack of acceleration of global sea levels right on its front page: http://alethonews.wordpress.com/

    (Moderators, if you think the article is too large, just post the title and link below)

    Deconstructing Nuclear Experts
    By CHRIS BUSBY, March 28, 2011

    http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/deconstructing-nuclear-experts/

    Since the Fukushima accident we have seen a stream of experts on radiation telling us not to worry, that the doses are too low, that the accident is nothing like Chernobyl and so forth. They appear on television and we read their articles in the newspapers and online. Fortunately the majority of the public don’t believe them. I myself have appeared on television and radio with these people; one example was Ian Fells of the University of Newcastle who, after telling us all on BBC News that the accident was nothing like Chernobyl (wrong), and the radiation levels of no consequence (wrong), that the main problem was that there was no electricity and that the lifts didn’t work. “ If you have been in a situation when the lifts don’t work, as I have” he burbled on, “you will know what I mean.”

    What these people have in common is ignorance. You may think a professor at a university must actually know something about their subject. But this is not so. Nearly all of these experts who appear and pontificate have not actually done any research on the issue of radiation and health. Or if they have, they seem to have missed all the key studies and references. I leave out the real baddies, who are closely attached to the nuclear industry, like Richard Wakeford, or Richard D as he calls himself on the anonymous website he has set up to attack me, “chrisbusbyexposed”.

    I saw him a few times talking down the accident on the television, labelled in the stripe as Professor Richard Wakeford, University of Manchester. Incidentally, Wakeford is a physicist, his PhD was in particle physics at Liverpool. But he was not presented as ex- Principle Scientist, British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield. That might have given the viewers the wrong idea. Early on we saw another baddy, Malcolm Grimston, talking about radiation and health, described as Professor, Imperial College. Grimston is a psychologist, not a scientist, and his expertise was in examining why the public was frightened of radiation, and how their (emotional) views could be changed. But his lack of scientific training didn’t stop him explaining on TV and radio how the Fukushima accident was nothing to worry about. The doses were too low, nothing like Chernobyl, not as bad as 3-Mile Island, only 4 on the scale, all the usual blather. Most recently we have seen George Monbiot, who I know, and who also knows nothing about radiation and health, writing in The Guardian how this accident has actually changed his mind about nuclear power (can this be his Kierkegaard moment? Has he cracked? ) since he now understands (and reproduces a criminally misleading graphic to back up his new understanding) that radiation is actually OK and we shoudn’t worry about it. George does at least know better, or has been told better, since he asked me a few years ago to explain why internal and external radiation exposure cannot be considered to have the same health outcomes. He ignored what I said and wrote for him (with references) and promptly came out in favour of nuclear energy in his next article.

    So what about Wade Allison? Wade is a medical physics person and a professor at Oxford. I have chosen to pitch into him since he epitomises and crystallises for us the arguments of the stupid physicist. In this he has done us a favour, since he is really easy to shoot down. All the arguments are in one place. Stupid physicists? Make no mistake, physicists are stupid. They make themselves stupid by a kind of religious belief in mathematical modelling. The old Bertie Russell logical positivist trap. And whilst this may be appropriate for examining the stresses in metals, or looking at the Universe (note that they seem to have lost 90% of the matter in the Universe, so-called “dark matter”) it is not appropriate for, and is even scarily incorrect when, examining stresses in humans or other lifeforms. Mary Midgley, the philosopher has written about Science as Religion. Health physicists are the priests. I have been reading Wade Allison’s article for the BBC but also looked at his book some months ago. He starts in the same way as all the others by comparing the accidents. He writes:

    See entire article here:

    http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/deconstructing-nuclear-experts/

  167. Fransico,

    Are any of these arguments based on facts or just ad homs on those that disagree with him? I went to your source and he compares apples to oranges. Long term caesium contamination at Chernobyl to total contamination (including short term iodine) at Fukishima. The Oxford prof was comparing Cs-137 to Cs-137, so who exactly is being misleading? The contamination of areas offsite is the only real issue left in this debate but we won’t get to reality with half-truths. The fact remains that in a few months the only significant contaminate left will be Cs-137 just as it is all that is left at Chernobyl now. I’m not sure he is going to win the argument by claiming all physicists are morons, which seems to be his meme.

  168. Just a remark about coal, since so many think it’s more acceptable than nuclear.

    Has any of you actually been down a coal mine? Really down, not just walking around outside the mine shaft, or being taken down a few yards?
    Well, it is a most dangerous environment, and too many miners have died there, sometimes in large numbers, not just in China but in the Western countries as well.
    And that doesn’t take the long-lasting, killing diseases into account.
    Look up ‘Black Lung Disease …:
    “Black lung disease: A chronic occupational lung disease contracted by the prolonged breathing of coal mine dust. The silica and carbon in the coal dust cause black lung disease. About one of every 20 miners studied in the US has X-ray evidence of black lung disease, a form of pneumoconiosis.”

    http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=9818

    That’s in the USA alone, where conditions are certainly better than elsewhere.

    Of course, one can try and do open-cast mining, destroying vast areas of land in the process, provided the seams are pretty close to the surface. Wouldn’t be so good where the seams are over a mile below ground …

    Here’s some more info from wales:
    “Welsh Mining Disasters
    The following is a list of mining accidents where there were Five or more fatalities.

    Where blank means five or more, but the exact numbers are unknown to me at present.

    As numerous as this list (over 6,000) it still represents only a small proportion of Welsh miners killed at their workplace. Although disasters are large and dramatic in number they only account for less than 17% of mining deaths in Wales. The total number (including those who died because of mining related illnesses) would be incalculable.”

    http://www.welshcoalmines.co.uk/DisastersList.htm

    And then there was Senghennydd – where 439 miners died that day:

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

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

    How many workers were killed, at once, in Chernobyl?

    Yes, coal is fine – as long as one doesn’t have to crawl on one’s belly, in the dark, a mile or more below ground, to get it out …

  169. NHK News …

    Tokyo Electric Power Company says plutonium has been found in soil samples from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

    It says the radioactive substance appears to be related to the ongoing nuclear accident, but the level detected is the same as that found in other parts of Japan and does not pose a threat to human health.

    TEPCO collected samples from 5 locations around the power plant over 2 days from March 21st and found 2 samples contaminated with plutonium.

    Plutonium is a byproduct of the nuclear power generation process. At the number 3 reactor of the Fukushima plant, plutonium is an ingredient in mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel.

    With a half-life of 26,000 years. But this won’t be serious will it?

  170. Doug Badgero says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:21 am
    Are any of these arguments based on facts or just ad homs on those that disagree with him?
    ================
    I think Chris Busby gives plenty of fact-based arguments. As for ad-homs, other than the passing remarks about the blathering silliness of some physicists outside of their field (something to which most readers here are accustomed: e.g. James Hansen is a physicist, and he is indisputably silly), I don’t see any.

    I’ve culled a few excerpts from his article:
    ===========
    […]
    I will briefly refer to two Chernobyl studies in the west which falsify Wade Allison’s assertions. The first is a study of cancer in Northern Sweden by Martin Tondel and his colleagues at Lynkoping University. Tondel examined cancer rates by radiation contamination level and showed that in the 10 years after the Chernobyl contamination of Sweden, there was an 11% increase in cancer for every 100kBq/sq metre of contamination. Since the official International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) figures for the Fukushima contamination are from 200 to 900kBq.sq metre out to 78km from the site, we can expect between 22% and 90% increases in cancer in people living in these places in the next 10 years. The other study I want to refer to is one I carried out myself. After Chernobyl, infant leukaemia was reported in 6 countries by 6 different groups, from Scotland, Greece, Wales, Germany, Belarus and the USA. The increases were only in children who had been in the womb at the time of the contamination: this specificity is rare in epidemiology. There is no other explanation than Chernobyl. The leukemias could not be blamed on some as-yet undiscovered virus and population mixing, which is the favourite explanation for the nuclear site child leukemia clusters. There is no population mixing in the womb. Yet the “doses” were very small, much lower than “natural background”. I published this unequivocal proof that the current risk model is wrong for internal exposures in two separate peer-reviewed journals in 2000 and 2009. This finding actually resulted in the formation in 2001 by UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher of a new Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters CERRIE. Richard Wakeford was on this committee representing BNFL and he introduced himself to me as “BNFL’s Rottweiler”. No difference there.
    […]
    But the IAEA themselves, not known for their independence from the nuclear industry, report that contamination levels out to 78km were between 200 and 900kBq/sq metre. And Wade has been rather selective with his data, to put it kindly. The UN definition of radioactively contaminated land is 37kBq/sq metre just as he writes, but actually, in all the maps published, the inner 30km Chernobyl contamination exclusion zone is defined as 555kBq/sq metre and above. This is just a fact. Why has he misled us? In passing, this means that there are 555,000 radioactive disintegrations per second on one square metre of surface. Can you believe this is not harmful? No. And you would be correct. And another calculation can be made. Since the IAEA data show that these levels of contamination, from 200,000 to 900,000 disintegrations per second per square metre, exist up to 78km from Fukushima, we can already calculate that the contamination is actually worse than Chernobyl, not 1% of Chernobyl as Wade states. For the area defined by a 78km radius is 19113 sq km compared to the Chernobyl exclusion zone of 2827 sq km. About seven times greater.
    […]
    ow I turn to the health effects. Wade trots out most of the usual stupid physicist arguments. We are all exposed to natural background, the dose is 2mSv a year and the doses from the accident are not significantly above this. For example, the Japanese government are apparently making a mistake in telling people not to give tap water containing 200Bq/litre radioactive Iodine-131 to their children as there is naturally 50Bq/l of radiation in the human body and 200 will not do much harm. The mistake is made because of fears of the public which apparently forced the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP, to set the annual dose limits at 1mSv. Wade knows better: he would set the limits at 100mSv. He is a tough guy. He shoots from the hip:

    Patients receiving a course of radiotherapy usually get a dose of more than 20,000 mSv to vital healthy tissue close to the treated tumour. This tissue survives only because the treatment is spread over many days giving healthy cells time for repair or replacement. A sea-change is needed in our attitude to radiation, starting with education and public information.

    But Wade, dear, these people are usually old, and usually die anyway before they can develop a second tumour. They often develop other cancers even so because of the radiation. There are hundreds of studies showing this. And in any case, this external irradiation is not the problem. The problem is internal irradiation. The Iodine-131 is not in the whole body, it is in the thyroid gland and attached to the blood cells: hence the thyroid cancer and the leukaemia. And there is a whole list of internal radioactive elements that bind chemically to DNA, from Strontium-90 to Uranium. These give massive local doses to the DNA and to the tissues where they end up. The human body is not a piece of wire that you can apply physics to. The concept of dose which Wade uses cannot be used for internal exposures. This has been conceded by the ICRP itself in its publications.
    […]
    Why is the ICRP model unsafe? Because it is based on “absorbed dose”. This is average radiation energy in Joules divided by the mass of living tissue into which it is diluted. A milliSievert is one milliJoule of energy diluted into one kilogram of tissue. As such it would not distinguish between warming yourself in front of a fire and eating a red hot coal. It is the local distribution of energy that is the problem. The dose from a single internal alpha particle track to a single cell is 500mSv! The dose to the whole body from the same alpha track is 5 x 10-11 mSv. That is 0.000000000005mSv. But it is the dose to the cell that causes the genetic damage and the ultimate cancer. The cancer yield per unit dose employed by ICRP is based entirely on external acute high dose radiation at Hiroshima, where the average dose to a cell was the same for all cells.
    […]

    http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/deconstructing-nuclear-experts/

  171. This appeared just over an hour ago.

    Plutonium Found in Soil Around Damaged Japanese Nuclear Plant

    Officials say evidence of highly radioactive plutonium has been detected in the soil in five locations around Japan’s earthquake-disabled nuclear reactor.

    Operators of the Fukushima nuclear plant quoted by Japan’s Kyodo news agency said Monday they believed the plutonium was seeping out from the nuclear fuel in the damaged reactors.

    The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that runs the plant said they did not believe the levels were high enough to be considered a risk to human health.

    Partial meltdown

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said earlier Monday he suspected a partial meltdown of one of the Fukushima earthquake-disabled nuclear reactors was leading to pools of highly radioactive water that plant operators say have been found outside the plant’s buildings.

    Edano said the government’s top priority is to prevent the contaminated water from seeping into the ground water system. He urged residents to stay away from the 20-kilometer evacuation zone as the area continues to be very risky.

    Contamination

    Radioactive contamination has been spreading into the seawater and soil for the past two weeks, since the reactors’ cooling systems were seriously damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
    […]
    Full article

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Radioactive-Plutonium-Found-in-Soil-Around-Damaged-Japanese-Nuclear-Plant-118779069.html

  172. http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/nova-inside-chernobyls-sarcophagus/

    Those who think Japan’s Fukushima disaster is today’s headlines and tomorrow’s history need to take a good look at the Chernobyl disaster, which to this day is a continuing threat to the people of Ukraine. It will be hundreds of years before the area around the destroyed reactor is inhabitable again and there are disputes over whether or not Chernobyl’s nuclear fuel still poses a threat of causing another explosion. There is also a teetering reactor core cover and the deteriorating sarcophagus itself that may collapse and send plumes of radioactive dust in all directions. […]
    Below is a sobering look at the Chernobyl disaster and the many men who fought and died trying to contain it. There is also the little known tale of the scientists who over the years have risked their lives to assess and direct the management of the threat Chernobyl’s destroyed reactor continuously poses. We must look to history and take the catastrophic effects of Chernobyl’s disaster to heart. Downplaying the threat in Fukushima, Japan today needlessly puts millions of people at risk who might otherwise begin making preparations to leave the area on a long-term basis.

    NOVA – Inside Chernobyl’s Sarcophagus
    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

  173. WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The plutonium in some of those samples is from weapons testing in the 50s and 60s and is stated as such in the press releases. There is plutonium everywhere because of this testing and BECAUSE of its long half life there has to be a lot of it to be a radiological hazard.

    You cannot equate Bq/sqm directly to biological damage. One Bq is one disintegration per second. You need to know the type of radiation and the amount of energy released per disintegration before you can convert this to Sv or REM which are normalized to biological damage caused. Alpha particles do NOT result in any whole body dose for all of the reasons you state. Externally they result in no dose because they do not make it through a human’s dead skin layer. If exposed via an open wound or via the lungs or some other mucus membrane they result in a very high dose in a localized area. This is what radon, and its daughters, do to the lungs.

    Cs-137 the isotope of primary longterm concern (actually its short lived daughter Ba-137) in a nuclear accident is a gamma emitter so IT IS a whole body dose issue.

  174. Francisco says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm
    This appeared just over an hour ago.

    Plutonium Found in Soil Around Damaged Japanese Nuclear Plant

    Operators of the Fukushima nuclear plant quoted by Japan’s Kyodo news agency said Monday they believed the plutonium was seeping out from the nuclear fuel in the damaged reactors.

    Plutonium does not seep. It is almost insoluble in all aqueous forms. The spread of Pu is generally by air from an explosion such as Chernobyl, and exists in the form of “hot particles” which can be hazardous if inhaled.

    Note however that all soil contains some uranium and / or thorium, also alpha emitters like plutonium.

  175. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Contaminated_pools_to_the_drained_2703111.html

    Contaminated pools to be drained

    Pools of water with significant contamination are slowing down repair work in units 1, 2 and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi. It was in unit 3 that three workers recently suffered higher radiation exposure. The results of plutonium sampling have now been released.

    The origin of the water remains unknown, but readings by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) have shown very significant radiation dose rates near the pools in the lower levels of the turbine buildings. In unit 2 doses from the water’s surface are 1000 millisieverts per hour, in unit 3 this is 750 millisieverts per hour while unit 1 shows 60 millisieverts per hour.

    It was at unit 3 on 24 March that three workers were inadvertently exposed to radiation from the pools and may have suffered radiation burns to the skin of their legs. They were exposed to over 170 millisieverts, compared to the current temporary limit set by regulators of 250 millisieverts. The workers ignored their dosimeters and continued working based on radiation survey results one day earlier. This indictes that either the survey was in error, or the contents of the water changed significantly in the space of one day.

    The high doses from the water come from the rapid decay of radionuclides with short half lives. This leads officials to presume the water comes from the reactor system rather than the used fuel pond where this decay would have taken place some time ago. At the same time, however, pressures in the reactors have not dropped, indicating no large-scale pipe break. The primary containments of unit 1 and 3 are thought intact, although damage is suspected at unit 2. At least some damage to fuel assemblies is expected to have taken place at all three units.

    Media coverage of the pools has been complicated by a mistake in Tepco’s reporting which put the level of radioactivity in the water at ‘ten million times’ the normal level for reactor coolant. The company has retracted this, explaining that the level it reported for iodine-134 was actually for another radionuclide with a longer half-life and therefore a lower activity rate.

    As to the plutonium found on site:

    Three of the five samples showed the element at the pervasive levels found across Japan as a result of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. This level poses “no major impact on human health”, said Tepco. However, slightly higher detections from two samples “may be attributed to the accident, considering the plutonium isotope ratios.” Tepco did not speculate on a possible route for the plutonium to have been deposited on the soil. Three more analyses from different spots are underway.

    The workers ignored their dosimeters, got burned. “Ten million times” was from reporting on the wrong radionuclide. And two of the five samples showed only “slightly higher” levels of plutonium. Oh, and the Japanese people, long-touted as examples of healthy living with long lifespans, live with “pervasive levels” of plutonium surrounding them.

    I have what has proven to be a reliable indicator of how things are going at the site. I watch ABC News (US), note how horrifying “theoretically a physicist” Michio Kaku shouts that it is or will become, and know it’s not that bad nor will become that bad. It’s worked so far.

  176. For a useful perspective on Chernobyl radiation and radiophobia, see
    Zbigniew Jaworowski’s article
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2010/Summer_2010/Observations_Chernobyl.pdf and his update on the resettlement of the
    Belarus exclusion zone

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2010/Summer_2010/Belarus_Repopulation.pdf

    Jaworowski, a physician/nuclear scientist, is also a past chairman of the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation.

  177. Francisco says:
    March 28, 2011 at 11:47 am
    Doug Badgero says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I will briefly refer to two Chernobyl studies in the west which falsify Wade Allison’s assertions. The first is a study of cancer in Northern Sweden by Martin Tondel and his colleagues at Lynkoping University. Tondel examined cancer rates by radiation contamination level and showed that in the 10 years after the Chernobyl contamination of Sweden, there was an 11% increase in cancer for every 100kBq/sq metre of contamination. Since the official International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) figures for the Fukushima contamination are from 200 to 900kBq.sq metre out to 78km from the site, we can expect between 22% and 90% increases in cancer in people living in these places in the next 10 years.

    Even professional epidemiologists struggle with the link between ionising radiation and carcinogenesis (the background rate is so high, one in 3-4 of us will get a cancer, I already have) and this heroic attempt at amateur epidemiology by Martin Tondel is sadly laughable. The trap he falls into is the well known problem of the “ecological study”; this refers for instance to looking at environmental radiation levels in several geographic locations, then looking at cancer incidence in these regions, and drawing a straight line between them. Many epidemiologist fundamentally reject the approach of such ecological studies since the small effect you are looking for is confounded by many much larger stronger carcinogens. Ionising radiation is, by the standards of chemical agents and socio-economic factors, a very weak carcinogen.

    In fact, if you do ecological epidemiology seriously in regard to natural environmental levels of radiation (e.g. the work of Bernard Cohen) you find a strong and consistent result: background levels of radioactivity are INVERSELY related to levels of cancer incidence. But this is unreliable evidence for the safety or even benefit of radiation. There are many counfounding factors that can explain it. One example – background radiatio is higher in regions of natural beauty with low population densities, inhabited by rich people with good health care and good levels of health. Also, areas with very high natural background radiation levels, e.g. the Kerrala thorium sands in India, hot springs in Iran and Germany and elsewhere with high radon levels, Cornwall in England etc, have no consistent association with elevated cancer – more likely the reverse.

    Remember, in epidemiology (the “cake of death” study of where disease and death come from) two (connected) factors COMPLETELY DOMINATE AND OVERWHELM ALL OTHERS in causation of death, cancer or otherwise, and life expectancy: these are social connectedness and socio-economic status. A change in one of these will take DECADES off your life. By comparison cigarettes might take months or a year or two and radiation a few hours to days at best.

    So Tondel’s 11% is totally spurious and if he know anything about epidemiology he should have known this. He then blunders into an even greater mistake – assuming his 11% relative risk is linearly multiplicative. Nooooooo! You cant extrapolate from an epidemiological study, the errors and nature of the risk do not allow it. Radiation epidemiologists try to asses risks from large doses and extrapolate them to small ones (spuriously, using the ill-founded LNT linear no threshold model – sorry boys and girls, there IS a threshold). But you dont do it the other way round – extrapolate large risk from small. That is why the Japan WW2 bomb data is still the foundation of current (low-LET) radiation “protection”.

    Using all available ecological correlations one would conclude from increasing levels of Chernobyl fallout a decrease, not increase, in cancers. But this would be to follow a discredited methodology (the “ecological correlation study”) and a conclusion of increased or decreased risk is unsound. There is no alternative to the case-control multi-decade cohort study in groups matched for socio-economic status. Without this, you are wasting your time.

  178. Re:Francisco says:
    March 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    “Those who think Japan’s Fukushima disaster is today’s headlines and tomorrow’s history need to take a good look at the Chernobyl disaster….”

    I think you’ll find yours to be a sane voice in the wilderness at this site (my favorite blog of them all, incidentally) on this particular subject. Having helped design BWR power plants almost exactly like the ones in question, I began where you are early in the Fukushima Daiichi affair and was shocked at the cavalier positions of many commenters to the effect that events there were “no big deal”. After another week of steadily deteriorating circumstances at the plant, including almost certain evidence of a reactor containment breach, I had presumed that at least some of the air would have gone out of the “its all a bunch of media hype over a minor incident” crowd. I returned today to find defenders of the nuclear Holy Grail redoubling their efforts, some almost to the point of claiming “nuclear radiation won’t harm you anyway”.

    Even assuming all long-term damage is limited to the plant site, a very dubious outcome in view of the past week’s developments, decontamination of the site will cost $ billions and take decades of massive effort. That alone is a very “BIG DEAL”

  179. phlogiston says:

    There is no alternative to the case-control multi-decade cohort study in groups matched for socio-economic status.

    Why do you suppose that the US government never conducted such a study in the aftermath of Three Mile Island? Any guesses?

  180. Phil says:

    March 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    “Sigh. I had promised myself not to make any comments today.

    [stuff deleted]

    But, can you or anyone else guarantee that no meltdown occurred? Is all the fuel where it belongs, inside the fuel rods?”

    Phil,

    Obviously until the reactors are stabilized and opened up, no one will know for certain whether one or more of the cores have partially or totally melted. You seem to be implying that the evidence already indicates that one or more of the cores (or all?) have totally melted down. Based on what I’ve seen, while it is likely that there has been at least some damage to some of the cores, to imply that any of the cores have totally melted seems unjustifiedly pessimistic. If a core had already totally melted, there should be much more evidence of products other than iodine and cesium than there have been to-date. The water in the turbine room was not nearly as radioactive as it should have been had it leaked from a completely melted core. The plutonium being referenced in some of the reports today is in such small quantities that it may well have been there all along, and there are no reports of uranium or other products that would be expected if there has been a total meltdown of one or more of the cores.

    I think few people would disagree that this situation is less severe than Chernobyl, where the core did completely melt and pool below its original location.

  181. Daryl,

    Are you actually unaware that the present situation in Japan is potentially, and at this point likely, more than an order of magnitude worse than Chernobyl?

  182. aletho says:
    March 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm
    phlogiston says:

    There is no alternative to the case-control multi-decade cohort study in groups matched for socio-economic status.

    Why do you suppose that the US government never conducted such a study in the aftermath of Three Mile Island? Any guesses?

    For the same reason that they suppressed the results of the shipyard workers study. Ever heard of it? There was an epidemiological study comparing a nuclear to a non-nuclear ship-yard. One of the best studies of its type, all socio-economic confounders were well controlled. These were shipyard workers in both groups, only difference the radiation exposure. Result? To quote Bernard Cohen:

    Many other studies have been reported on cancer risk vs. dose
    for normal occupational exposures. In response to heavy media
    coverage of some nonscientific reporting, a $10 million study
    [43 44] was carried out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention (CDC) of workers in eight U.S. Navy shipyards
    involved in servicing nuclear-propelled ships.The study included
    28,000 exposed workers and 33,000 age- and job-matched
    controls who worked on non-nuclear ships. The former group all
    had exposures above 5 mSv and average exposures of 50 mSv. The
    cancer mortality rate for the exposed was only 85% of that for the
    unexposed, a difference of nearly two standard deviations. Hiring
    procedures, medical surveillance, job type, and other factors were
    the same for both groups; the study was specifically designed to
    eliminate the “healthy worker effect,” which is often used to
    explain such results. The issue of nonoccupational exposure was
    not addressed, but there was a high degree of homogeneity among
    the differentworker groups being compared.

    Here is Cohen’s full article, entitled “The LNT theory of radiation carcinogenesis should be rejected”:

    http://www.jpands.org/vol13no3/cohen.pdf

  183. Myrrh says:
    March 28, 2011 at 4:58 am
    phlogiston –

    Combine two mysterious unknowns, the workings of the Russian-Soviet political system, and health effects of radiation, and any number of conspiracy theories can be hatched. Yes, in the late 80’s the USSR was just about to emerge from decades of severe political repression, so it is not hard to argue governmental cover-up. But things changed completely within a few short years of the Chernobyl accident in April 1986. The era of Gorbachev, glasnost etc, while imperfect, suddenly made possible open and honest reporting of facts in a way previously unthinkable. For instance, in the 1950s there was a huge accident in the Urals releasing a large activity of plutonium, strontium and other radionuclides. Deep in the USSR both spatially and temporally, the accident was successfully hushed up. Of course, the Chernobyl cloud crossed into Finland and western Europe making cover up impossible in that sense. But as the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Chernobyl accident played a role in the massive political change that ended the Soviet Union.

    Which statistics would you really prefer to be using for your analysis, the massaged by vested interests to deliberately and cynically downplay the effects of radiation, or the statistics mostly unknown from the local people actually affected by this?

    After the accident, the opposite was more often true. Scientists and clinicians, suffering massive budget cuts in the end-Soviet collapse, desperately tried to attract Western collaboration and funding by talking UP, not down, the consequences of Chernobyl.

    To quote the article you cited on Chernobyl being “worse than we thought”:

    To buttress his point, Lupandin tracked down 235 people who originally lived in the Belarus village of Ulasy, located less than two miles from Chernobyl, which is just across the Ukraine border, and who were resettled after the village was evacuated.

    Thirty-five of the relocated villagers, although they were in the prime of life and felt fine for three years after the nuclear accident, are now dead of cancer.

    Of the survivors, many now suffer from goiter or diabetes, Lupandin said.

    A radiation scientist at the Ukrainian Radiation Protection service explained to me that the decision to evacuate many elderly people from their villages in Ukraine and Belarus was disastrous. These folk were uprooted from villages where they had lived their whole lives. The trauma of this quite literally killed off many of them. This high mortality was associated with moving them from high to low radiation areas. Remember that in the 80-s and 90’s life expectancy in the former USSR dipped into the fifties. Radiation or no radiation.

    Again, in a collapsing economy mortality will increase, and post-Chernobyl it was easy to pin this on ionising radiation. But the rigorous scientific studies aimed at quantifying the radiation carcinogenesis find much less than the extravagantly quoted figures of hundreds of thousands of deaths.

  184. phlogiston cites study:

    The former group all had exposures above 5 mSv and average exposures of 50 mSv.

    Useless PR phlog. Low levels of external radiation are irrelevant.

    You failed to address my question:

    Why do you suppose that the US government never conducted such a study in the aftermath of Three Mile Island? Any guesses?

  185. @Claude Harvey:
    March 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm
    ==========
    Yes, and I notice the shifting of the arguments. The fist week was “it’s no big deal, it will be under control in a few days”. Well that didn’t happen, a great amount of radiation is coming out, prospects are grim for any kind of quick resolution. So now the arguments have shifted to chanting the virtues of radiation, which is not only harmless, but, as it turns out, actually helps you prevent cancer.

    I am reminded of something I read a few days ago:
    “In the early 1950s, the disciples of nuclear power, or the ‘peaceful atom’ as it was then called, insisted that nuclear power would soon become so cheap and efficient that it would be offered to consumers for free. Visionaries that they were, they suggested that cities would be constructed with building materials impregnated with uranium so that snow removal would be unnecessary. Atomic bombs, they urged, should be used to carve out new coastal harbors for ships. In low doses, they swore, radiation was actually beneficial to one’s health.” http://www.counterpunch.org/ward03242011.html

  186. From Myrrh on March 28, 2011 at 4:58 am:

    Cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disease etc. rates have been rising dramatically in the 20th century, why is this elephant in the room of nuclear radiation so studiously ignored as a cause, when it is the ONE actually known direct cause of such illnesses?

    Cancer arises from genetic changes (carcinogenesis). A major source of genetic damage is oxidative damage from Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS are a normal product of cellular metabolism, including the biologically quite toxic superoxide, which actually leaks out of the mitochondria within our cells. Cancer does not NEED an external cause, we come pre-built with a potential cause within every cell.

    Type II diabetes, that arises after you are born and formerly considered “adult onset,” comes from excessive carbohydrate intake. We eat far more carbohydrates than we were designed to, by evolution or otherwise. We consume too much at once, we consume carbohydrates that are quickly transformed to glucose, leading to large blood sugar spikes. Where before we went through cycles of feast or famine, including periods like winter when meat was the only available food, we have feasts sufficient to trigger insulin releases to reduce damage-inducing high blood sugar levels several times a day, all year long. With the onset of diabetes, the pancreas produces less and less insulin, finally the body becomes insensitive to insulin, resulting in continuous high glucose levels leading to disease and death. You can read about this in the Wikipedia entry “Low-carbohydrate diet”. Dr. Atkins did great work in this field, among his own patients he was able to effectively treat diabetes with his diet. Indeed, diabetics have to be careful, as after going low-carb on the Atkins diet their needs for insulin and medication quickly drop off, often they’ll only need some regular monitoring of glucose levels.

    Autoimmune diseases are on the rise because, frankly, we’re no longer dirty enough. The various bodily mechanisms that we collectively call the immune system are always on alert, looking for attackers. Without enough things to be defended against, the immune system can grow ultra-sensitive, or not develop properly enough during early life to fully know the difference, and attack the body’s own cells. (Autoimmunity, the Hygiene hypothesis.) We raise our children in ultra-clean environments, obsessively clean and wash and even carry around hand sanitizer. Our immune systems don’t have enough to fight against. Indeed, there are several autoimmune diseases that are now being treated, by infecting people with parasitic worms (Helmintic therapy). The evidence is mounting, we need the environment we were designed to survive in, with parasites and germs and even regular exposure to allergens, to stay at our healthiest. Our sterile modern civilization is causing the rise in autoimmune diseases, not radiation.

    You can no more point to “nuclear radiation” as “ONE actually known direct cause” of those ailments, than you can point to CO2 as “ONE actually known direct cause” of whatever “global warming” actually exists. Each of them are swamped by other factors that cause them other than radiation. And indeed, I think this is the first time I ever heard of radiation causing diabetes and autoimmunity! Do you have any sources for those claims, that are at least borderline reputable, even Wikipedia?

  187. Claude Harvey

    Thanks for coming back to comment. I want the view of someone that has worked in designing nuclear plants. I agree with you that some here are downplaying what is going on at Fukushima. The odd thing is that I recognized the names as some that have had reasoned questions about global warming. I don’t know why they are so quick to ride off fears about Fukushima and radiation in general. Why don’t they have questions in this also?

    If you have any updates and opinions about Fukushima I will be reading them. Some may be quick to say you are exaggerating. But it’s obvious something is going on at Fukushima that we are not being told. The black out of radiation readings 2 weeks should have been enough for anyone, and everyone, to see it is worse than we are being told by some.

  188. @Daryl M says:
    March 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Pessimistic? I thought that I was showing with supporting material that the core temperatures may actually be dropping and that a good fraction of the radiation may have been and may continue to be effectively contained. The fraction that has escaped would be the volatiles, of which cesium would be the most worrisome. So far, in other comments I have shown that the fallout is not uniform and that there tend to be hot spots. I can think of only one ground sample outside of the plant that has shown dangerous levels of cesium, that has been reported so far. There does not appear to be any zone outside the plant where there is extensive (in area) contamination of soil or buildings, so far, but sampling has been necessarily incomplete. However, I would agree that precautions should continue to be taken in areas that could receive fallout and that the situation is still very serious.

    One observation that can be made, however, is that there are assumptions that may not be true that may heavily affect perceptions. One such assumption is that meltdown = catastrophic radioactive fallout. The meltdown at Three Mile Island was of 20 to 30 tons of corium, IIRC, and there were, IIRC, no emissions above the legal limit. Chernobyl is a vastly different story. A dangerous design, poorly operated, essentially no containment and insufficient precautions taken with respect to potentially affected populations.

    Despite the fact that Fukushima involves multiple reactors and probably also involves the first spent fuel accident, it differs from Chernobyl in almost every way and resembles Three Mile Island much more closely (i.e. better design than C, better operated than C, more effective containment than C and the precautions taken with respect to potentially affected populations were very prompt).

    I would also like to point out that this is a thousand-year event. I have never heard of anything built or required to be built to a thousand-year standard, be it earthquake, flood, forest fire, volcano, etc. In fact, I would submit that most everywhere there is probably insufficient data to even be able to estimate such a standard. Let’s hope that progress continues to be made at Fukushima, even if it is sometimes of the two-steps-forward-one-step-backward variety.

  189. Of course, one can try and do open-cast mining, destroying vast areas of land in the process

    At least strip mining sites are amenable to a degree of restoration for some human use. But the point is a false choice. We don’t have to choose between strip mining and nukes, there is plenty of oil and gas. Scarcity is not the issue. In any event the scale of devastation is off by many orders of magnitude.

    Nukes are not anywhere near economical either. They only exist because of the dominance of the military industrial complex, of which they are an integral part.

  190. Phil states:

    The meltdown at Three Mile Island was of 20 to 30 tons of corium, IIRC, and there were, IIRC, no emissions above the legal limit.

    Apparently Phil is under the impression that the emissions from TMI were measured. One wonders how he supposes that this measurement could have been carried out.

  191. >>Francisco says: March 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    >>Latest helicopter footage of Fukushima, zoom-in on ruined reactors. I can’t
    >>see how anything there can be made to work. The place is a wreck.

    A bit silly of them to make a gas-tight building around the cores, with no easy way of manually opening up large vents, in case of a gas build-up. Never mind the earthquake and tsunami, without those hydrogen explosions the situation would be much much easier to control.

    Bearing the volatility and destructive power of hydrogen, is it sensible to have hydrogen powered busses in London, with dozens of potential smokers on board?

    .

  192. aletho says:
    March 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    “Daryl,

    Are you actually unaware that the present situation in Japan is potentially, and at this point likely, more than an order of magnitude worse than Chernobyl?”

    If I didn’t know it wasn’t April Fool’s Day, I would think your post was a joke. Knowing that you are serious, all I can say is that if you think the situation in Japan is even as bad as Chernobyl, let alone worse, you are ignorant. They are not even on the same order of magnitude. The Chernobyl reactor was carbon moderated and it had no containment vessel. It exploded due to gross negligence of the operator and spread chunks of carbon moderator into the atmosphere and surrounding area. The fuel completely melted and ran down into the basement of the facility. It was an absolute worst case scenario, beyond anyone’s imagination. On the other hand, in Japan, the three reactors experiencing problems are all still holding pressure so irrespective of what happens to the core (even if they melt completely), the vast majority of the radioactivity will be contained. The only “leakage” has been due to venting of steam.

    How you can say that the situation in Japan is worse than Chernobyl is completely beyond common sense.

  193. Viv Evans says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

    “Just a remark about coal, since so many think it’s more acceptable than nuclear.
    Has any of you actually been down a coal mine?”

    Nope. I haven’t been in a uranium mine either but I understand they’re worse the coal mines. You didn’t think those fuel rods grew on trees, didja?

  194. Phil says:

    March 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    @Daryl M says:
    March 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    [deleted]

    I agree with everything you just wrote. I just thought you were previously implying the cores of reactors 1-3 had already completely melted. I’m not suggesting it won’t be determined that they have melted and as I said, I think there is pretty indisputable evidence that there has been core damage, but I just don’t see how you came to think the evidence is already conclusive based on what has been released to-date.

  195. My god Daryl, do you actually think that the “spent” fuel pools are contained? Have you not any idea of the quantity of hazardous material which may be released into the environment?

    You need to get a source of information on the topic.

  196. From aletho on March 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Why do you suppose that the US government never conducted such a study in the aftermath of Three Mile Island? Any guesses?

    You mean a study besides the report from the US Presidential Commission (aka Kemeny Commission)?
    Site: http://www.threemileisland.org/virtual_museum/october30_1979.html
    Report: http://www.threemileisland.org/virtual_museum/pdfs/188.pdf
    Online version of report: http://www.pddoc.com/tmi2/kemeny/

    The radiation outside the plant was tiny, would yield nothing noticeable. The worst health effect, it was concluded, was mental distress. Many recommendations were made concerning technical and personnel issues. By the blurbs seen in the Google search results, it is considered very critical of the nuclear industry of the time. But as to health effects, nothing was found that seemed to merit a follow-up study.

    Other subsequent studies of the possible physical health effects were done. See Wikipedia entry: Three Mile Island accident health effects. Nothing dramatic found among even the most “alarming” investigations, especially given factors like the high natural radon concentrations. Basically, no noticeable effects.

    Which US government study were you looking for that wasn’t done in the TMI aftermath? How would it be different from the Kemeny Commission report, which was done?

  197. @aletho on March 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I apologize for not being more precise. I was specifically referring to a tsunami following an 8.4 (est.) earthquake with an epicenter very near Sendai in 869, IIRC. I don’t believe an earthquake alone of similar magnitude to the one this year would have had this much effect on Fukushima.

    @aletho on March 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Give it a rest dude. I thought I had used enough qualifiers to avoid getting into food fights.

    @aletho on March 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    If they can maintain enough water to cover the spent fuel in the SFPs, then the spent fuel would be contained. I believe you may be referring to secondary containment of the SFPs, which this design lacks (if you don’t count the building as such, which I wouldn’t). If that is what you are referring to, I would agree with you that there is a lack of secondary containment, a point which I have also previously made.

    Given the problems with the SFPs at Fukushima, the issue of Yucca Mountain now acquires much needed attention. Hopefully, you will agree with me that opposition to Yucca Mountain was shortsighted and that moving spent fuel off-site to secure storage needs to be implemented ASAP.

    @Daryl M on March 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for your kind words. You are right that it is way too early to know what exactly has happened to the cores in the reactors.

  198. kadaka,

    There is no way to measure the “radiation outside the plant” which is claimed only as “tiny”. If one is only a few hundred feet from dangerous concentrations one can get safe readings.

    Any sampling is only applicable to the relatively minute sample itself, not to the actual material released.

    Leave it to the state to slur their victims as “mentally distressed” rather than to conduct a real health study which would track cancers and correlate them.

    Outrageous.

    Criminal.

  199. Phil 9:53,

    No, I do not agree that Yucca mountain opposition was “shortsighted”. Yucca mountain was abandoned because it is on and in a fault line. The feds could not get their own geologists to sign off on it no matter how much they paid them.

    What is short sighted is the nuclear energy industry’s existence.

  200. From the link provided by kadaka (KD Knoebel) on March 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm:

    http://www.pddoc.com/tmi2/kemeny/supplemental_view_by_anne_d_trunk.htm

    There were reliable news sources available. Too much emphasis was placed on the “what if” rather than the “what is.” As a result, the public was pulled into a state of terror, of psychological stress. More so than any other normal source of news, the evening national news reports by the major networks proved to be the most depressing, the most terrifying. Confusion cannot explain away the mismanagement of a news event of this magnitude.

    It is requested that the news media undertake a self-evaluation on an individual basis and review their role in this accident which was not limited to equipment damage but also included psychological damage.

    The minority view containing this comment is dated October 25, 1979!

  201. aletho says:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    “My god Daryl, do you actually think that the “spent” fuel pools are contained? Have you not any idea of the quantity of hazardous material which may be released into the environment?

    You need to get a source of information on the topic.”

    The number of rods in each of the spent fuel pools is well documented thank you very much and if you weren’t so disingenuous you would not be hung up on this as if it’s a major issue. Spent fuel does not pose anywhere near the hazard of an active reactor core. Spent fuel is called “spent” because it no longer contains enough fissionable material to efficiently generate power. That’s why it can be put into a pool, or do you not know that? It’s there to cool until it can be moved to another location for reprocessing. You seriously need to get a clue and maybe you should consider trolling somewhere else.

  202. I’d gladly keep one of those spent fuel rods buried in my back yard, encased in some lead and concrete like a septic tank, with plumbing pipes embedded in the block to circulate water to heat my home in the winter.
    The heck with Yucca, I’ll store that spent fuel rod for free… if it could only make that PG&E Smart-Meter* run backwards, then we’d really be talkin’.

    Fear prevents us from using this valuable commodity.

    *Assembled in Mexico from electronic parts made in China… how’s that helpin’ us?
    PG&E charges enough that they could make them in the USA providing American jobs. We seem to be giving it all away…

  203. @aletho on March 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you for your frankness. Please let’s just agree to disagree then. I wish you good cheer.

  204. aletho says:
    March 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
    phlogiston cites study:

    The former group all had exposures above 5 mSv and average exposures of 50 mSv.

    Useless PR phlog. Low levels of external radiation are irrelevant.

    You failed to address my question:

    Why do you suppose that the US government never conducted such a study in the aftermath of Three Mile Island? Any guesses?

    What planet are you on? 5-50 MGy / mSv is above, not below, the dose range likely to have been received by a small number of people following 3 mile island. Public health officials get panic-stricken even over doses in the range of hundreds of micro-grays, based on pure medieval type superstition to which our society has returned. The shipyard study shows that, over a dose range extending to far higher than anything received by the general public around 3 mile island, and probably affecting only a few hundred people around Fukushima or Chernobyl, there is no radiation carcinogenesis.

    It would have been a total waster of time and money to study radiation carcinogenesis around 3 mile island where there was essentially no radiation (trivial amounts). For a study to work you have to have something to measure.

    Exposed groups where you can actually do some science include:

    Japan bomb survivors
    Radium dial painters
    radiotherapy patients especially pediatric
    Thorotrast (thorium containing clinical contrast agent used in 60s-70s)
    spondylitis patients treated with Ra224
    to a limited extent, Chernobyl, compromised by quality of dosimetry

    3 mile island is a complete irrelevance, radiation carcinogenesis from this radiological non-event is in the same category as discussion of UFOs and ghosts.

  205. There has been a war against cheap energy (nuclear) since the late 70’s when it was recognized that in order to support the Petro-Dollar one needed to keep people and other countries reliant on Oil. The Shah of Iran was allowedf to be overthrown in part because of his insistence to continue with building 20 nuclear plants. TMI was hyped by FEMA on it’s first day of operation to scare the public away from nuclear.

    There is no reason to store spent nuclear fuel rods as they could be recycled (97%) with the 3% going for other products that require radioactive. DHS or military could make sure none of it is used for proliferation. We could shut down uranium mining industry for 25 years if this were allowed. But we don’t want nuclear power, and it has nothing to do with safety.

    Why? Oil and Financial Industries are interlocked. Countries that need oil borrow money from banks and pay interest. In order to buy the Oil they need to pay in USD (which OPEC agreed to in return for higher Oil Prices), which supports the dollar (hence the term Petro-Dollar, it is backed by Oil instead of Gold). Otherwise, the dollar would be in free fall given our trade and fiscal deficits, so government has an interest in helping the Oil and Financial Interests.

    Market prices for Oil are volatile due to speculation by the Finance Industries, not supply/demand fluctuations. Morgan Stanley’s futures contracts could supply the entire worlds oil consumption for 1 year, yet their Wall Street office could take delivery on perhaps 1000 barrels. Dubai is a major center of oil futures trading as well, helped set up by NASDAQ, and it’s trading center opened in 2006 with Oil at 60 dollars a barrel, prices then went to 150 within a year, only to drop to 70 dollars, and now on the way back up to 150 or more before falling again.

    The Finance Industry earn profits in driving up the price. When the bubble has reached the point that peoples outcry forces regulators to take a close look at speculation, they burst the bubble and make money by shorting the futures market as prices fall (last time from 150 to 70 dollars). They make money with prices going up or down. No matter to them.

    The Multi-National Oil companies do not buy oil at market prices. They have long term deals with National Oil Suppliers. In addition to buying the oil, they transport it to their refineries, refine it, and transport it to market. They also supply the parts the oil producers need to get the oil out of the ground and store it. Without their support, many of the oil suppliers would have to let most of the oil seep out of the ground. Why do you think Iran must import gasoline at the same price or higher than the Oil they sold.

    Here is how it works. Oil company X has a contract for 50 dollars/barrel oil with Country Y. They have their oil tankers registered in a Tax Haven like Liberia or Panama. The Oil gets sold to their company in the tax haven at 50 dollars a barrel. They then sell it to their refinery in Texas at market price (100 dollars), which driving up the price of gas. The large profits get booked in the tax haven, while the refinery earns a marginal profit. The profit from Oil coming from the companies oil wells in the US is taxed at 35%. Thats why they hate the idea of doing more drilling in the US. Imported oil is more profitable.

    While Oil companies would love oil prices to stay at 150, they earn a healthy profit at 70 dollars, and since they are interlocked with the Finance Industry, they indirectly earn money when prices are falling as well.

    As Oil prices increase, demand for adjustable rate loans and USD also increase. Finance companies earn more interest. Energy prices increase, which cause the price of food and consumer goods to increase. Interest rates will then increase to combat inflation, increasing Finance companies profits on ther loans. Those holding loans may find themselves unable to afford payments and go into default, and having their assets seized. In the case of a country, the IMF will ask them to open up their markets or natural resources. This happened in the late 70’s and early 80’s as well forcing a lot of 3rd world countries to default. The Fed bailed out the large banks holding these loans, and will do so again, and again, and again.

    What’s this mean for Nuclear? Same as in the 80’s. The higher interest rates make building nuclear plants too expensive. More regulatory hurdles as a result of this disaster will also make them more expensive. Oil is safe.

    Furthermore, without nuclear power to worry about, all other “viable” energy
    sources give off CO2 which will be taxed, to combat the phony threat of AGW, making energy even more expensive. Living standards and thus consumption will decline, making the world a greener and more sustainable place to live (so say the greenies).

    Furthermore, once living standards in Europe and North America decline enough to reach those of the rest of the world, the conditions will be right for a world government and the end of nationalism. Thats the goal.

    Green is Red in this Orwellian world of ours.

  206. Daryl M says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm
    Spent fuel does not pose anywhere near the hazard of an active reactor core. Spent fuel is called “spent” because it no longer contains enough fissionable material to efficiently generate power. That’s why it can be put into a pool, or do you not know that?
    ==================================

    http://www.ips-dc.org/blog/meltdowns_grow_more_likely_at_the_fukushima_reactors

    […]
    On average, spent fuel ponds hold five-to-ten times more long-lived radioactivity than a reactor core. Particularly worrisome is the large amount of cesium-137 in fuel ponds, which contain anywhere from 20 to 50 million curies of this dangerous radioactive isotope. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium-137 gives off highly penetrating radiation and is absorbed in the food chain as if it were potassium.

    In comparison, the 1986 Chernobyl accident released about 40 percent of the reactor core’s 6 million curies. A 1997 report for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by Brookhaven National Laboratory also found that a severe pool fire could render about 188 square miles uninhabitable, cause as many as 28,000 cancer fatalities, and cost $59 billion in damage.

    **A single spent fuel pond holds more cesium-137 than was deposited by all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined. ** Earthquakes and acts of malice are considered to be the primary events that can cause a major loss of pool water.
    […]

  207. As I wrote a couple of days ago, I would not be (in principle) against nuclear power, but I think it is the kind of industry whose regulation needs to be held to such lofty standards that it may well be beyond our capability to adequately control it. And if we can’t control it to those standards, messes will occur with increasing frequency. The industry lobbies ferociously and succesfully against all manner of increased safety measures that increase costs. And all additional safety measures increase cost. It is already a very expensive industry that survives to a great extent due to its birth links to the industrial military complex. Economic factors everywhere clash with safety factors. The temptation to cut corners can, and will, prevail if a sufficient amount of money is at stake. You might think there might be exceptions with something as exceptionally dangerous as nuclear materials, but there aren’t. The problem of how to properly handle “spent” fuel (which is not spent at all) remains serious.
    The industry seems to possess an enormous amount of resources to try to mollify public concerns about its safety. This has become clear to me in the last couple of weeks, when, in the face of an obviously serious accident, there suddenly arose shrill voices everywhere urging us to look elsewhere, insisting this was irrelevant, demanding that the media stop talking about it, recommending that we “concentrate on the tsunami,” and similar inanities. The intensity of the reaction seemed odd. When reports of highly radioactive water spilling out of the reactors at 1,000 mSv/h began to appear, the focus shifted to a preposterous siren song about the beauties of radiation and how it improves the health of those exposed.

    All things considered, even if in principle I believe that nuclear power might be made reasonably safe in an ideal world, in practice I’ve come to the conclusion that it will always be far from it, because ultimately greed gets its way and overcomes all manner of resistence. Given the uniquely dangerous nature of this industry, the only way to regulate it properly would be to have it follow the orders of a committee of extraterrestrial angels (with no possibility of appeal) regarding what they need to do in each plant. No human-made agency can accomplish this task. Even if you had an international group of angelical experts inspecting every plant in the world, a group that was totally immune to any form of ethical compromise, it is unimaginable that any drastic decision they made regarding the revamping or closure of what they considered unsafe would ever be enforced. Who would enforce it? Who would force the US, or Russia, or China, to do whatever they are told needs to be done to their nuclear facilities, if they deem it economically unviable?

    The future looks rather grim. If economic conditions worldwide continue to slowly deteriorate due to dwindling natural resources, especially cheap fossil fuel energy, it is a given that what needs to be done with aging nuclear plants will increasingly fail to be done, cutting corners everywhere will become more frequent, and so will these kinds of accidents, which when they happen will become more and more difficult to deal with appropriately precisely because of a lack of resources. The structure of the Chernobyl sarcophagous is visibly deteriorating, a lot of money is needed to revamp it, and the money can’t be raised. The enormous world accumulations of spent fuel in ponds would need to be stored in hard containers, but it won’t, because money rules, and has to come from somewhere, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is controlled by the industry, will not rule its own demise.

    The saddest thing to see is the enormous amount of totally childish statements being made here about these very serious matters.

    Here is the latest article by Robert Alvarez, senior scholar of nuclear policy at the IPS, on the topic of spent fuel storage.

    http://www.ips-dc.org/blog/safeguarding_spent_fuel_pools_in_the_united_states

    Excerpts from the article:

    As this photograph shows, http://www.theoildrum.com/files/5530841229_ce48e3518d_z.jpg the spent fuel pools at Units 3 and 4 at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex are exposed to the open sky and might be draining. The radioactive dose rates coming off the pools appear to be life-threatening. Lead-shielded helicopters are trying to dump water over the pools/reactors could not get close enough to make much difference because of the dangerous levels of radiation.
    If the spent fuel is exposed, the zirconium cladding encasing the spent fuel can catch fire — releasing potentially catastrophic amounts of radiation, particularly cesium-137. Here’s an article I wrote http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/atreactorstorage/alvarezarticle2002.pdf in January 2002 in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists about spent fuel pool dangers.
    […]
    In January 2003, my colleagues and I warned that a drained spent fuel pool in the U.S. could lead to a catastrophic fire that would result in long-term land contamination substantially worse than what the Chernobyl accident unleashed. An area around the Chernobyl site roughly half the size of New Jersey continues to be considered uninhabitable.
    […]
    U.S. reactors are each holding at least four times as much spent fuel as the individual pools at the wrecked Daiichi nuclear complex in Fukushima. According to the Energy Department, about 63,000 metric tons of spent fuel has been generated as of this year, containing approximately 12.4 billion curies. These pools contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet. Merely 14 percent of U.S. spent fuel is in dry storage.
    […]
    At this stage it’s critical that:

    The NRC hold off on renewing operating licenses for nuclear reactors, given our newfound certainty that many sites in earthquake zones could experience greater destruction than previously assumed.
    The NRC promptly require reactor owners to end the dense compaction of spent fuel, and ensure that at least 75 percent of the spent fuel in pools operating above their capacity be removed and placed into dry, hardened storage containers on site, which are more likely to withstand earthquakes.

  208. One of the real problems with reporting the undoubted difficult and dangerous situation in Fukushima Daiichi is that no one can easily digest the units involved, and how these units relate to the risk. This chart helps

    http://xkcd.com/radiation

    The BBC not prone to being unbiased these days did once upon a time do some excellent science programs. This is one and it explodes some of the myth surrounding heath issues in the wake of Chernobyl.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5173310.stm

    Quotes from the program:
    “When people hear of radiation they think of the atomic bomb and they think of thousands of deaths, and they think the Chernobyl reactor accident was equivalent to the atomic bombing in Japan which is absolutely untrue,” says Dr Mike Repacholi, a radiation scientist working at the World Health Organization (WHO).
    “Low doses of radiation are a [very] poor carcinogen,” says Professor Brooks, who has spent 30 years studying the link between radiation and cancer.
    “If you talk to anybody and you say the word radiation, immediately you get a fear response. That fear response has caused people to do things that are scientifically unfounded.”
    “Professor Ron Chesser, of Texas Tech University, US, has spent 10 years studying animals living within the 30km exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl.
    He has found that, far from the effects of low-level radiation being carcinogenic, it appears to boost those genes that protect us against cancer.
    “One of the thoughts that comes out of this is that prior exposure to low levels of radiation actually may have a beneficial effect,” Professor Chesser says.
    What the program demonstrates is that our expectations of danger from radiation are based on old models that may not be relevant today. Also there is evidence that low dose radiation may be beneficial.
    This second article draws from the study of the victims of the 2 atomic bombs. This study also shows that those who were exposed to low doses of radiation are in fact living longer with fewer heath issues that those who were not.

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/03/21/lawrence-solomon-reactor-victims-will-benefit-studies-show/

    Could it be that just as in climate science our understanding of the effects of radiation is flawed? A could it be that some thought should be given to the fact that as we have evolve on a planet bombarded with radiation there may have been time when the magnetic field of the earth and sun did not deflect some much and that life has evolved a defence mechanism. I’m not a biologist but I just know that something dose not add up, perhaps someone around is studying this very issue

  209. It’s sad to say, but I have lost any respect for the integrity of many commentators here.

    Disingenuous talking points that get repeated ad nauseum.

    Refusal to take in information that challenges their false reality.

    Kind of like religious fruitcakes.

  210. One of the real problems with reporting the undoubted difficult and dangerous situation in Fukushima Daiichi is that no one can easily digest the units involved, and how these units relate to the risk. This chart helps

    http://xkcd.com/radiation

    =======================
    Yes, it does help. The amount of radiation in the water coming out of the reactors (1000 mSv/hour), i.e. the water they are trying to prevent from running into the sea, takes all of 8 hours to give you the same amount of radiation (8 Sv) as the heaviest dose in the red part of your chart (bottom right), the dose that is described as “Fatal dose, even with treatment.”

    The same 1000 mSv/hour gives you (in only 1 hour) 320 times the radiation in all the green boxes combined. And it gives you, in 1 hour, 400,000 times the radiation of all the blue boxes combined.

    It’s a pretty chart, very reassuring, mind you.

  211. Sorry,
    1000 mSv/hour in the contaminated water coming out gives you (in 1 hour):

    *16,666 times all the blue boxes combined
    *13.3 times all the green boxes combined
    *4 times the dose limit for emergency workers in lifesaving operator (250 mSv in red chart)
    *1/8 the “fatal dose even with treatment” (8 Sv, red chart)
    *The equivalent of the entire chart (blue, green and red) in about 16 hours.

  212. Re:Francisco says:
    March 29, 2011 at 3:44 am

    “As I wrote a couple of days ago, I would not be (in principle) against nuclear power, but I think it is the kind of industry whose regulation needs to be held to such lofty standards that it may well be beyond our capability to adequately control it.”

    Your excellent summary pretty well captured my position on commercial nuclear electric power generation. If the risk-reward analysis included the inevitable “black swan” of a Chernobyl or Fukushima Dai-ichi coming along every so often rather than assuming “it will not happen”, the only rational conclusion would be that the downside risks so heavily outweigh the upside rewards that the technology in its present form should not be employed so long as there are viable alternatives.

    Having designed, built and operated power plants of all stripes for some 40 years, I would add to your “lofty standards” concern with a description of a human “Achilles heel” element that no standard can ever overcome. I came to call it “the operator mentality”. Unlike many industrial processes, there is something about an operating power plant that regularly draws its operators into “pride of ownership”. They like to see their plant up and running and, if possible, setting records. While I ordinarily encouraged such fealty to ownership motivation, I discovered a downside. Many operators will tend to take foolish risks to keep a plant up and running even to the point of risking their own lives in the process. I called it “the John Wayne syndrome” and it was so pervasive that I was forced to regularly pound away through “come to Jesus” safety lectures to the effect that “you do me no favor by dying for the cause and possibly taking others with you”. Any relaxation of that stern message and “John Wayne” would creep back into the operation.

    I’ll finish this with a description of a mess that occurred in spite of my best efforts to cover “the John Wayne syndrome”. I’d designed a de-mineralized water makeup system for a pumped storage plant motor/generator’s water cooled rotor. Any significant leakage in that coolant loop, especially at the rotating coupling where water entered and exited the rotor would result in destruction of a 540,000 hp machine. Therefore, I included in the design redundant detection mechanisms that guaranteed the 23Kv machine would not only signal an alarm, but would also immediately trip free of the system and automatically shut down in the event of such a leak before the machine was destroyed. The detection system hinged on my limiting automatic makeup water to a small holding tank to a prescribed amount while monitoring water level in that tank. If leakage in the machine exceeded prescribed maximum makeup rate, the holding tank level would drop and trigger the shutdown. I then imagined the operators defeating those automatic controls with rubber “boots” slipped over relay contacts and other mechanisms I knew them to use to avoid pesky alarms and shutdowns they might judge to be unnecessary. So I wrapped the whole system in such electrical complexity that any attempt to defeat it would result in a shutdown.

    Years later, I received a call from a friend informing me the unit I’ve described had just “blown up” due to a leak of de-mineralized water into its rotor windings where it had mixed with dust and debris to form a catastrophic electrical short-circuit. When I expressed disappointment that the operators must have found a way to bypass what I’d thought was a foolproof automatic shutdown system, he responded that they’d failed to defeat the system electrically, just as I had intended them to fail and the unit had shut down safely and refused to restart. Instead, they had formed a bucket brigade to pour water into the makeup tank fast enough to outrun my level detector and were running the unit under those conditions when it blew. Their motivation was a world “unit availability” record the operators were close to breaking when my exotic leak detector had shut them down.

    As the Buddhist would say, “That which is” is simply “That which is”.

    CH

  213. Francisco says:
    March 29, 2011 at 2:08 am

    “Daryl M says:
    March 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm
    Spent fuel does not pose anywhere near the hazard of an active reactor core. Spent fuel is called “spent” because it no longer contains enough fissionable material to efficiently generate power. That’s why it can be put into a pool, or do you not know that?
    ==================================
    http://www.ips-dc.org/blog/meltdowns_grow_more_likely_at_the_fukushima_reactors

    First, the article you are quoting is from 2 weeks ago and I would question the objectivity of the source due to the site. I believe it’s safe to say it is not a site that is friendly to nuclear power.

    Second, you are still missing the point about spent fuel. Spent fuel does contain some highly radioactive and/or long-lived products, but it is MUCH less likely to heat to the point where melting can occur because it is spent. That’s why it’s called “spent”.

    The comparision in the article of the amount of radioactivity in spent fuel to Chernobyl is irrelevent and is not surprising considering the site. The Chernobyl reactor exploded while it was undergoing fusion. And the reactor did not have a containment vessel, due to the design. There is NO WAY, aside from a bomb being detonated in the pool, for radioactivity in the Fukushima spent fuel pool to be spread in the same manner as Chernobyl.

  214. From Phil on March 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm:

    Given the problems with the SFPs at Fukushima, the issue of Yucca Mountain now acquires much needed attention. Hopefully, you will agree with me that opposition to Yucca Mountain was shortsighted and that moving spent fuel off-site to secure storage needs to be implemented ASAP.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR_Double_attack_on_US_nuclear_waste_fees_1003111.html

    Double attack on US nuclear waste fees
    10 March 2011

    American utilities and regulators have both filed lawsuits against the Department of Energy (DoE) for continuing to charge for the halted Yucca Mountain project.

    Funding for Yucca Mountain has come from a levy of 0.1 cents per kWh of nuclear power, which currently adds up to about $770 million per year. Nuclear utilities – and therefore their customers – have now paid a total of over $31 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund.

    The government was supposed to use this money to create a permanent nuclear waste disposal site by 1998. Around $7 billion was spent and much progress made, but Yucca was cut off from funding in May 2009 by President Barack Obama and energy secretary Stephen Chu. Spending on Yucca is now set at the absolute minimum level, while the $24 billion balance of the fund remains with the US Treasury earning substantial compound interest of over $1 billion per year.

    By Congressional action, the utilities have paid for and are still paying for a permanent nuclear waste disposal site. The Commissar in Chief unilaterally decided Yucca Mountain won’t be it. They’re still charging for what the Administration is refusing to provide. That’s breach of contract, in a normal business setting. It’s mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on Yucca Mountain:

    During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to abandon the Yucca Mountain project. [9]After his election, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Obama he did not have the ability to do so.[10] On April 23, 2009, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and eight other senators introduced legislation to provide “rebates” from a $30 billion federally managed fund into which nuclear power plants had been paying, so as to refund all collected funds if the project was in fact cancelled by Congress.[11]

    Reference 10 is a dead link, but here’s an good one from the same time, first week in July 2010: Judges rule Obama can’t close Yucca Mountain nuclear dump

    WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. John Spratt and Republican Rep. Joe Wilson don’t agree on much, yet the South Carolina congressmen are cheering a new ruling that denied the bid by the U.S. Energy Department to withdraw its application for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

    Three administrative judges within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled last week that Congress had designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 to receive highly toxic waste from the Savannah River Site on the S.C.-Georgia border and other complexes that built atom bombs during the Cold War.

    The panel found that President Barack Obama and Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a nuclear physicist, lacked the power to close the Yucca repository unilaterally; doing so, it ruled, would require another act of Congress.

    It’s illegal for the Administration to unilaterally kill off Yucca Mountain.

    Reference 11 is informative:

    Bill to liquidate the Nuclear Waste Fund
    27 April 2009

    The bulk of America’s $30 billion Nuclear Waste Fund could be repaid to consumers under legislation introduced to the Senate late last week.

    Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who describes himself as “one of the strongest supporters of nuclear energy in the Senate” put forward the Rebating America’s Deposits Act on 23 April in response to President Barack Obama’s decision to put the Yucca Mountain project on hold. The bill was co-sponsored by eight other Republican senators including John McCain.

    The bill specifies that within 30 days of passage the President would have to either confirm that Yucca Mountain remains the “preferred choice” for high-level radioactive material disposal or begin to rebate “all funds currently in the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund” built up to pay for Yucca.

    If the nuclear waste fund was handed back to the utilities that have paid into it, some 75% of it would be mandated to go back to customers. The remainder would be allocated to building interim used nuclear fuel storage facilities at current nuclear power sites where the fuel would remain until there was a new disposal route.

    Yucca Mountain was meant to begin operation in 1998, and utilities forced to provide interim storage since that time have already won over $600 million in compensation. These monies came from federal funds after a court ruled the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund itself could not be used to meet costs incurred by the DoE’s failure to meet its original target.

    Graham’s plan would also authorize annual payments of up to $100 million to states that hold the military wastes from 2017, the most recent estimated date for Yucca to have opened.

    The nuclear industry wanted long-term disposal, they were promised it, they paid for it, waited for it, they’re still being charged for it. The Commissar in Chief reneged on the deal. So give them back the money, so they can build dry cask storage instead while they wait for sensible fuel reprocessing to finally happen in the US. And go back to waiting for a real long term disposal site like they had wanted and were promised and still need.

  215. Daryl M says:
    March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am
    There is NO WAY, aside from a bomb being detonated in the pool, for radioactivity in the Fukushima spent fuel pool to be spread in the same manner as Chernobyl.
    ===========
    What it takes for spent fuel in pools to catch fire and start putting stuff in the atmosphere is only enough time being exposed to the air, without water. The assumption that removal of that water is a bulletproof impossibility is very silly, and yet it seems to be what drives the nuclear industry to keep piling up this stuff onsite in pools. Alvarez writes: “According to DOE about 63,000 metric tons of spent fuel has been generated as of this year containing approximately 12.4 billion curies. These pools contain some the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet. Only 14% of U.S. spent fuel is in dry storage.”

    Pool storage never was meant to be permanent, but since it is a lot cheaper than dry storage, there you have it. Another example of money having its say over sense. As a matter of fact, they are running out of room to store them this way. What they will do next, I don’t know. 63,000 metric tons of spent fuel in the US alone holding upwards of 12 billion curies makes me think it’s a measure of the total insanity of this industry that they assume they can keep piling up this stuff all over the world like that.

    For a more detailed account of the pool storage topic:

    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/The-spent-fuel-crisis-Region-s-nuclear-plants-1309964.php

  216. @Claude Harvey:
    March 29, 2011 at 8:17 am

    That’s a great story, Claude. By hook or by crook, we have to find ways to mess things up.

    @kadaka (KD Knoebel):
    March 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    At the beginning you say that the *customers* of the nuclear industry paid for Yucca Mountain. By the end of your story, it’s the industry that paid for Yucca Mountain.
    Poor Industry!
    And poor Yucca Mountain, robbed of the surprise we had in storage for it.

  217. Claude Harvey,

    I have been a nuclear plant operator for 25+ years and would go to jail for the actions you describe. About a decade ago an individual at another utility was sentenced to three years in prison for cheating on an NRC licensing exam. The willful bypassing of tech spec required safety features would be treated even more harshly I suspect.

  218. Francisco says:
    March 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

    “Daryl M says:
    March 29, 2011 at 8:19 am
    There is NO WAY, aside from a bomb being detonated in the pool, for radioactivity in the Fukushima spent fuel pool to be spread in the same manner as Chernobyl.
    ===========
    What it takes for spent fuel in pools to catch fire and start putting stuff in the atmosphere is only enough time being exposed to the air, without water.”

    Whether or not spent fuel can overheat to the degree that it could catch fire depends on how old it is. I don’t think enough information has been released to confirm that. Irrespective of that, the likelihood that it will overheat to that degree is another matter. Based on the status reports, all of the spent fuel pools are at least minimally submerged so the possibility of a “Chernobyl-like event” involving the spent fuel is very remote.

    “The assumption that removal of that water is a bulletproof impossibility is very silly, and yet it seems to be what drives the nuclear industry to keep piling up this stuff onsite in pools.”

    This quotation is a great example of the duplicity of many people who comment on the nuclear industry. Opponents of nuclear power critize the industry for storing spent fuel in pools on one hand and then throw up obstacle after obstacle preventing them from moving the fuel to better long term storage facilities for eventual reprocessing on the other hand. It’s like the only answer they will provide is “no”. This frankly makes me sick and I wish more of the public would become aware of this duplicity and take a more active stand against it. There are a variety of solutions to the problem of storing and reprocessing spent fuel, but opponents of nuclear power seem to be bent on resisting “to the last man” any attempts to resolve this matter because if a solution gets accepted, it will remove a major obstacle to nuclear power being more widely adopted.

  219. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-nuclear-power-plants-safe/story?id=13246490&page=1

    Records Show 56 Safety Violations at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants in Past 4 Years

    Among the litany of violations at U.S. nuclear power plants are missing or mishandled nuclear material, inadequate emergency plans, faulty backup power generators, corroded cooling pipes and even marijuana use inside a nuclear plant, according to an ABC News review of four years of Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety records.

    And perhaps most troubling of all, critics say, the commission has failed to correct the violations in a timely fashion.

    “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has very good safety regulations but they have very bad enforcement of those regulations,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear scientist with the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.

    There are 104 U.S. nuclear power plants.

    Lochbaum and the Union of Concerned Scientists found 14 “near misses” at nuclear plants in 2010. And there were 56 serious violations at nuclear power plants from 2007 to 2011, according the ABC News review of NRC records.

    At the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant in Illinois, for instance, which is located within 50 miles of the 7 million people who live in and around Chicago, nuclear material went missing in 2007. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the operator — Exelon Corp. — after discovering the facility had failed to “keep complete records showing the inventory [and] disposal of all special nuclear material in its possession.”

    As a result, two fuel pellets and equipment with nuclear material could not be accounted for.

    Two years later, federal regulators cited Dresden for allowing unlicensed operators to work with radioactive control rods. The workers allowed three control rods to be moved out of the core. When alarms went off, workers initially ignored them.

    “This event is disturbing,” Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists said. “In August 1997, the NRC issued information … about a reactivity mismanagement problem at Exelon’s Zion nuclear plant,” which was retired the following year.

    “It was an epoch event in the industry in that other plants owners noted it and took steps to address [the issue]. Yet, a decade later, Exelon’s Dresden plant experiences an eerily similar repetition of the control-room operator problems.”

    The lost material was almost certainly shipped to a licensed, low-level waste disposal site, Lochbaum said.

    At the Indian Point nuclear plant just outside New York City, the NRC found that an earthquake safety device has been leaking for 18 years.

    In the event of an earthquake, Lochbaum said, the faulty safety device would not help prevent water from leaking out of the reactor. A lack of water to cool the fuel rods has been the most critical problem at the Fukushima plant in Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami.

    “The NRC has known it’s been leaking since 1993,” Lochbaum said, “but they’ve done nothing to fix it.”

    While declining to address specific violations, Roger Hanna, a spokesman for the NRC, said “we do require plant to comply, and we do follow up for corrections” when violations are discovered.

    But NRC records examined by ABC News show that such incidents are not uncommon: In June 2009, at the Southern Nuclear Operating Co. Inc. in Birmingham, Ala., the emergency diesel generator — which would be used in the event of a disaster — was deemed inoperable, after years of neglect.

    “Cracks in the glands of the emergency diesel generator couplings had been observed since 1988, but the licensee did not recognize the cracking was an indication of coupling deterioration,” according to the NRC report. On April 19, 2010, the NRC cited the Tennessee Valley Authority Browns Ferry nuclear plant near Decatur for failing to provide “fire protection features capable of limiting fire damage.”

    The NRC fire protection regulations in effect today were developed as a direct result of the Browns Ferry fire on March 22, 1975.

    In June 2010, Duke Energy, operators of the William McGuire nuclear plant in Mecklenburg County, N.C., was cited by the NRC after a contract employee was caught using marijuana inside the protected area.

    NRC safety records show that inadequate emergency planning was a recurring problem in the industry from 2007 to 2011. Violations included unapproved emergency plans and plan changes, inadequate fire planning and precautions, falsified “fire watch” certification sheets,” inadequate flooding precautions, an insufficient tone alert radio system to notify the populace in a potential emergency and faulty assessment of containment barrier thresholds.

    Corroded water pipes and cooling problems were also recurring issues.

  220. @Daryl M you have hit on an important area that should be highlighted by the media, but it won’t because that would require a little more effort than a cut and paste.

    It would be a nice change if those who continuously block progress would accept some responsibility for the farce over spent fuel storage. But I guess all we will see the same old bull about operations failures. This event should be the opportunity to make real progress towards improving nuclear safety and operational effectiveness just as for example every mechanical failure in a car is used to improve design and manufacturing processes to improve the product reduce costs and remain competitive. However we will throw all this experience and the hard won lessons of engineering out the door and listen to those who are completely clueless, and more skilled at disinformation and exaggeration. What a mixed up world we have created.

  221. From aletho on March 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm:

    Leave it to the state to slur their victims as “mentally distressed” rather than to conduct a real health study which would track cancers and correlate them.

    “Leave it to the state…”! Just how anti-government are you?

    It is not a slur to note a fact, TMI was a very stressful event. Indeed, it would have been negligent to not note the mental health effects. So the Presidential Commission did their duty, reported the truth, and you want to slam them for it?

    There is no way to measure the “radiation outside the plant” which is claimed only as “tiny”. If one is only a few hundred feet from dangerous concentrations one can get safe readings.

    So what are you saying, they missed a few chunks of plutonium that were littered across the landscape? It was an air dispersal event. Are you expecting some low-lying pockets of radioactive gas to have been hiding somewhere? Hordes of experts descended on the plant, taking many measurements. From those came estimates of the exposure, which is the best you’re going to get since the general population around the plant wasn’t wearing calibrated dosimeters.

    “Tiny” was my word, it wasn’t used in the “Health Effects” section of the Findings, thus by your wording I doubt you read that section. So here’s the info:

    1. Based on available dosimetric and demographic information:

    a. It is estimated that between March 28 and April 15, the collective dose resulting from the radioactivity released to the population living within a 50-mile radius of the plant was approximately 2,000 person-rems. The estimated annual collective dose to this population from natural background radiation is about 240,000 person-rems. Thus, the increment of radiation dose to persons living within a 50-mile radius due to the accident was somewhat less than one percent of the annual background level. The average dose to a person living within 5 miles of the nuclear plant was calculated to be about 10 percent of annual background radiation and probably was less.

    b. The maximum estimated radiation dose received by any one individual in the off-site general population (excluding the plant workers) during the accident was 70 millirems. On the basis of present scientific knowledge, the radiation doses received by the general population as a result of exposure to the radioactivity released during the accident were so small that there will be no detectable additional cases of cancer, developmental abnormalities, or genetic ill-health as a consequence of the accident at TMI.

    c. During the period from March 28 to June 30, three TMI workers received radiation doses of about 3 to 4 rems; these levels exceeded the MRC maximum permissible quarterly dose of 3 rems.

    d. The process of recovery and cleanup presents additional sources of possible radiation exposure to the workers and the general population.

    2. There were deficiencies in instrumentation for measuring the radioactivity released, particularly during the early stages of the accident. However, these deficiencies did not affect the Commission staff’s ability to estimate the radiation doses or health effects resulting from the accident.

    Within 5 miles, only about 10% of background. And you’re upset they didn’t track and correlate cancers, when there wasn’t enough radiation to cause them? Gee, you might as well be consistent, and demand a federal investigation with tracking and correlating of cancers arising from medical CT scans. Refer to chart. Maximum external dose from TMI over all those days was one-sixth of what a chest CT scan delivers all at once. Now that sounds dangerous!
    =====
    From aletho on March 29, 2011 at 7:20 am:

    Disingenuous talking points that get repeated ad nauseum.

    Refusal to take in information that challenges their false reality.

    Kind of like religious fruitcakes.

    Yup, I’m really feeling what it’s like to be facing such nonsense. So, got enough links to your blog posted here to get its stats up, or are you going to hang around here some more?

  222. Re:Doug Badgero says:
    March 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Claude Harvey,

    I have been a nuclear plant operator for 25+ years and would go to jail for the actions you describe.

    You might go to jail unless the operating force closed ranks and covered for you. Such a cover-up is exactly what I’m told happened in the incident I described (I had moved on by that time). I’m not claiming a duplicate incident in a U.S. nuclear plant where operating retirements and Q/A oversight are so much more stringent would have come out as did this incident in a non-nuke. I’m saying the human inclination is there, especially when years of familiarity within the nuclear operating environment without bad things having happened eases the “fear factor”. The same syndrome occurs in surgery, piloting and many other occupations with deadly potential and is effectively controlled MOST of the time. The difference between those occupations and nuclear plant operation is the scale of the potential consequences of one of those “John Wayne moments” and where MOST of the time simply won’t cut it.

  223. Francisco,

    We get it you don’t like nuclear power. It is impossible to make sense of your post or put these violations in context since there is so little technical detail there, but just to provide some likely context for one issue:

    “At the Indian Point nuclear plant just outside New York City, the NRC found that an earthquake safety device has been leaking for 18 years.”

    What you are almost certainly referring to is a hydraulic snubber. This is a passive safety device, basically a shock absorber installed on plant systems. There are typically many snubbers installed on large components and piping systems when that component or system must be seismically mounted. A leak of hydraulic oil does not mean the snubber is inoperable and just because a single snubber is inoperable doesn’t mean the system it supports would fail due to an earthquake. They were likely cited because they failed to promptly and effectively repair this snubber. And I am sure they deserved the citation.

    I’m guessing you have never worked in an industrial environment. Especially one that was subject to the myriad of safety and environmental regulations that US industry is subject to. Take a look at the nrc.gov website some time and see how many violations of NRC requirements are reported in the medical field or other industrial fields. Radioactive materials are everywhere, you shouldn’t have to look very hard to find lots of violations associated with soil moisture gauges, etc. Take a look at safety and environmental violations and reports associated the petrochemical, mining or food processing industry sometime. Given the length of the CFR in this country I think nuclear would compare favorably and I know of few other industries that have federal inspectors on site full time year round.

  224. Claude,

    “You might go to jail unless the operating force closed ranks and covered for you.”

    Sorry sir, it is obvious you have never worked in this business. If ranks were closed then the “ranks” would go to jail. Management and the NRC would throw them under the bus to protect the integrity of the industry. Culturally, at least in the USA, it would never happen because we ALL understand the consequences. The surest way to get fired from my job is ANY case of a personal integrity issue. I have seen it a handful of times for issues as simple as lying to cover the fact that you made an honest mistake. The honest mistake usually won’t get you fired, unless you are a repeat offender, the lie to cover it up will get you fired in a heartbeat.

    I don’t know what the culture is in other countries and that does give me some concern but I also think you give the design features of these plants short shrift. And as I have indicated previously, I believe the common fears of radiation are wildly overblown.

  225. Re:Doug Badgero says:
    March 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    “Sorry sir, it is obvious you have never worked in this business. If ranks were closed then the “ranks” would go to jail. Management and the NRC would throw them under the bus to protect the integrity of the industry.”

    I’ve not only worked in “this business”, I’ve designed great chunks of both BWR and
    PWR plants in the U.S. and wrote sections of both the PSAR and FSAR (safety analysis documents) for those plants. If “going to jail” were the ultimately effective deterrent to short-cutting safety, two TVA executives and a contract electrician would not currently be under investigation and indictment by the DOJ for purportedly faking safety documents and cable measurements at Watts Bar Unit #2.

    I’ve seen too much of human and institutional nature in my lifetime to buy your “we would never do such a thing” contention. Protecting the “perceived” integrity of the industry is sometimes more vital to management and regulatory interests than actual integrity. Self-interest is a powerful motivator and when an act or event will reflect really badly on an entire industry, possibly even become “life threatening” to that industry, natural human forces will often connive to cover up or down play that act or event. That’s the nature of institutions and that’s the nature of groups of individuals.

    I hope that your personal integrity is never tested against the vested interests of your operating peers or the management and institutions to whom you report, because on that sad day you will become sorely disillusioned over the purity of “group integrity”.

  226. For all your great technical enthusiasm, what most of you big fans of nuclear energy have in common is a remarkable inability to understand why it is that people of all types, including highly competent scientists, have such deeply-set misgivings about things nuclear. In your shortsightedness you attribute it all to some kind superstitious fear of what they don’t understand, and you forget that many of them do understand quite well the technical details, and that all of them understand the dismal history of this force of nature and its relation with us since we began tinkering with it some 70 years ago. Some still remember how it started, with huge open explosions in deserts and oceans, followed by the anihilation of two cities, followed by more explosions and radiations all over the place for decades to come, evacuations, poisoning, sickness, then expanding over to “peaceful” tasks and leading to the mess in Chernobyl.

    You also show an incomprehensibly selfish lack of concern for how much we may litter the Park for the next round of picnickers, and the next, and the next…

    You know, this is no silly CO2-based fear mongering fairy tale here. Notice that in order to turn CO2 into a bogeyman, an enormous, sustained effort of propaganda, coupled with the shameless bribing of large swaths of academia through the fund system, was needed, and yet the result is not that spectacular. In spite of such phenomenal efforts, and all the “scientific consensus,” more than half the people fail to be properly scared by CO2 and “climate change”. They sense it’s contrived, even when not understanding the details very well. Note that the propaganda effort for this idea is top down, it is pushed and financed from above.

    Well, I don’t see any similar source, or history, in the popular opposition to nuclear power. It’s has mostly emerged from below, by people simply putting 2 and 2 together: “this stuff is a killer”.

    So when you wring your hands in despair at the spectacle of people refusing to accept the disposal of nuclear waste in their backyard (using the word backyard in an extended sense that may include your whole state, or even your whole country) you are not understanding the full reasons for their refusal. These reasons do include also a concern about what kind of state we leave this Park in when we depart. Your imagination appears very very stunted at times to me. You conveniently forget that every time you spill some of this stuff, the mess never really goes away. Imagine a world gone merrily nuclear, tens of thousands of nuclear plants everywhere. Mere statistical expectations would suggest accidents of all kinds would have to become more frequent. Add to this the very real possibility that social order continues to erode gradually as the decades go by. Regulations become laxer, or increasingly more difficult to enforce, aging facilities that should be shut down, aren’t shut down, until a mess occurs; storage becomes looser, acts of sabotage are also perfectly conceivable… imagine all this in the context of a kind of poisoning that never goes away once it poisons an area.

    I’ve just read a comment on a NYT piece on the “elephant’s foot” of Chernobyl:

    ***quote***
    “Water cannot be allowed to touch the thing that is deep inside the reactor: about 200 tons of melted nuclear fuel and debris, which burned through the floor and hardened, in one spot, into the shape of an elephant’s foot. This mass remains so highly radioactive that scientists cannot approach it.”

    “This abstract ‘thing that is deep inside the reactor’ is thus held outside of human contact, separated from experience by a provisional monument: the sarcophagus shell. Sheltered there, precisely because of its temporal excess, in a state of near-immortality, capable of interacting mutationally with living matter for up to a million years—the ‘thing’ enters into a timeframe more appropriate for mythology.”

    http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/elephants-foot.html

    ***end of quote***

    My general impression sometimes is that you are a bit like a group of small children playing around with a sleepy tiger, an animal they had never seen and have just discovered lying on the back yard, trying to ride him, prodding him with sticks, to see if they can get him to carry them somewhere for free.

    Risk cannot be assessed only on odds. As I read on another blog a few days ago: if I tell you that in crossing a certain grass field you have a 1 in 100 chance of being bitten by a mosquito, you may not give it much thought. But if I give you the same odds for being bitten by a deadly viper, you’ll probably think of it differently. In fact you should.
    Are you really, really, unable to see the possible long term consequences of betting our future as a species on something like this?

  227. phlogiston says:
    March 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    But things changed completely within a few short years of the Chernobyl accident in April 1986. The era of Gorbachev, glasnost etc, while imperfect, suddenly made possible open and honest reporting of facts in a way previously unthinkable.

    The cover up began immediately, most of the real information was lost in the “official” Soviet recording of the effects. The cover up continued. It is quite absurd to believe that these things changed in the ‘new Glastnost’ era, Gorbachev was a die-hard Communist all through, the same people stayed in power and in the political apparat, if anything, their strength is increased because they now play the West at its own game too. What happened to the free press there…?

    Anyway, they don’t care about the few real voices heard about a subject inimical to them because as is fully practised in the West, the meme that hardly anyone died or was affected is now fully backed by “official science” and these voices are swamped by the brainwashed believers produced; because Governments everywhere running nuclear reactors for their still prime purpose, weapons, are like AGWScience, backing it to the hilt right up to global UN level. You and others still believing Soviet Speak can’t tell the difference. Reading your (generic) posts is just like reading Gavin et al, so seriously producing crap scientific reasons to back up the meme regardless that it actually is obviously nonsense, from real observation. And as I’ve said before, even pointing out how this ‘science’ is created doesn’t bother, just another excuse is found to continue justifying believing in it. You, generic, have been thoroughly re-educated.

    For example, I give you an example and you completely ignore that the 35 dead were described as being in the prime of life, you come back with a story of the elderly traumatised by being moved.. And then you finish with a real cracker – you say: “Remember that in the 80’s and 90’s life expectancy in the former USSR dipped into the fifties. Radiation of no radiation”. But you’ve excluded radiation.

    And you come back with this paragraph giving information from “a radiation scientists at the Ukrainian Radiation Protection service” in answering something I asked you to read carefully. In which deceit is explained as being in the order of the system, that even when people gave true accounts through interpreters, the interpreters would change it. Listen to me carefully, I know and grew up with a large mixed community of survivors from the Second World War, mainly Ukrainians, of those who lived in the Soviet countries and were taken as slave labour to be starved for years and worked to death in Germany after Hitler invaded and forced them to walk to Germany, that was trauma. They lived to ripe old ages, three score and 10+ the norm. So carry on believing that all these old uns after Chernobyl were just sooooo traumatised by moving to less contaminated areas they died because they were unhappy – it’s patent, observable in humanity generally, bullshit. That you, generic, can so readily swallow such nonsense, shows how very efficiently it’s been organised. Please, think about it.

    But the rigorous scientific studies aimed at quantifying the radiation carcinogenesis find much less than the extravagantly quoted figures of hundreds of thousands of deaths.

    See end of this post.

    ###
    Marje Hecht says:
    March 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    For a useful perspective on Chernobyl radiation and radiophobia, see Zbigniew Jaworowski’s article… etc.

    This is a classic example of the manipulation of thinking in the Soviet era that even someone with an otherwise excellent capacity for analytical thought can believe the nonsense he writes. As above my reply to phlogiston. Think about it. Traumatised by “Radiophobia”, or traumatised by seeing the effects of radiation? What would traumatise you more? Seeing members of your family, friends, community die in great numbers, getting horrible cancers and giving birth to physically and mentally deformed children, or traumatised by “the idea” of radiation while seeing no real effects around them? The orphanages in Belarus were full of such children whose parents had died unusually young.. Get in touch with the charities from the West who began helping these early on, ask them what they observed.

    ###
    kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Your post is full of the same lame excuses and everything is a cause except radiation. Thank you. It’s because I’ve read such that I’m taking an interest here.

    Cancer arises from genetic changes (carcinogenesis). A major source of genetic damage is oxidative damage from Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS.

    Your link takes me from ROS’s “ROS are also generated by exogenous sources such as ionizing radiation,”to “Ionizing Radiation – The degree and nature of such ionization depends on the energy of the individual particles (including photons), not on their number (intensity). ….Conversely, even very low-intensity radiation will ionize, if the individual particles carry enough energy (e.g., a low-powered X-ray beam).”

    Why the great rise in lung cancers when figures show no correlation between high smoking and lung cancers? So let’s make up “passive smoking” to account for it shall we? Just as we dismiss the extraordinary rise in diabetes as “over indulgence of carbohydrates” rather than the rise in auto-immune diseases from ionizing radiation, and the totally off the wall, “because we’re too clean now”, rather than the breakdown of DNA. All the while COMPLETELY ignoring the tremendously extradordinarily huge amounts of nuclear ionizing radiation bombarding us for all the decades we see these rises, from which these are its known effects.

    All:

    Re: phlogiston’s “rigorous scientific studies”…

    I’ve posted these examples before on:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/20/someone-is-wrong-in-the-msm-about-radiation/

    This from March 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm, (please also read the other links I posted here).

    http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/HoloVsNoProb.html

    For an example of how such “rigorous scientific studies” by the official bodies are manipulated to produce the statistics required to down play the real effects of radiation. Again, please, read this carefully, by choosing these particular groups the results are guaranteed. Extrapolating from them is excluding the hundreds of thousands who died and the millions still suffering from the effects. Excluding reality. Observable reality. As the example I gave of the doctor who never had any cases of cancer before Chernobyl, now common. Extrapolate from that!

    I also gave a link later to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samuel-s-epstein/nuclear-power-causes-canc_b_251057.html of yet another planned whitewash rigorous scientific study, my posterior.

    Everything you’re regurgitating here has been from the same high powered political/industry governments cover-ups. They’ve got better at it over the decades. Look how successful the AGW brainwashing has been. These nuclear reactors only exist because of their use for producing materials for mass destruction, they don’t give a damn about people…

    Please see the other links I posted in that discussion. Until you do, until you, generic, actually make the effort to read and think about what I’m saying as I’ve read and thought about what you’ve said, then we’ll continue to not communicate, to talk past each other.

    In summary. Your examples are nonsense because they IGNORE the nuclear elephant in the room in the rise of cancers and diabetes and other auto-immune breakdowns over the last decades, your rigorous scientific studies are nonsense because they make no medical sense. These are clear manipulations of statistics and minds, your minds.

  228. Perhaps my statement that it could never happen was too strong but I have worked in this culture all of my adult life and I do not consider the willful bypassing of safety features to be a credible threat in the USA. The real threats just as WASH 1400 and everything that came after it indicate are common mode failures such as fires and floods.

  229. Regarding your cited TVA case:

    A contract electrician was charged TVA was not. “Prosecutors said an investigation that led to the indictment began in August 2010 after TVA inspectors found problems with the wiring.” It seems the story proves my point.

  230. Re:Doug Badgero says:
    March 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Regarding your cited TVA case:

    A contract electrician was charged TVA was not. “Prosecutors said an investigation that led to the indictment began in August 2010 after TVA inspectors found problems with the wiring.” It seems the story proves my point.

    Doug:

    I guess I writing wasn’t very clear. There are two cases pending. You correctly cite the electrician case. The second most certainly is against TVA. The DOJ is filing charges as reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel (see below). It has been reported elsewhere that the charges include fraudulent technical submissions to the NRC by TVA executives:

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Federal prosecutors are filing charges against the Tennessee Valley Authority over the only U.S. site where a nuclear reactor is under construction.

    TVA spokesman Scott Brooks says the charges relate to the Watts Bar facility in Spring City, north of Chattanooga. He said he didn’t know the specifics.

  231. Francisco says:
    March 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    [lengthy anti-nuclear diatribe deleted]

    “Are you really, really, unable to see the possible long term consequences of betting our future as a species on something like this?”

    My first reaction after reading your emotional diatribe was to wonder who you think you are to talk down everyone like this? Did someone appoint you to the task of setting everyone straight? What are your credentials, other than, I suspect, being a left-leaning environmental activist?

    For your self-assessed wisdom, you seem remarkably blind to the fact that not everyone sees this issue in the same way as you do. You need to realize that you don’t speak for everyone and you don’t get to appoint yourself as the voice of reason. Speaking only for myself, you might find a more sympathetic audience for this sort of viewpoint elsewhere.

  232. “In summary. Your examples are nonsense because they IGNORE the nuclear elephant in the room in the rise of cancers and diabetes and other auto-immune breakdowns over the last decades, your rigorous scientific studies are nonsense because they make no medical sense. These are clear manipulations of statistics and minds, your minds.”

    You mean the “rise of cancers and diabetes and other auto-immune breakdowns” that have coincided with a continuously rising life expectancy? I really do not know what your hypothesis is. Do you believe we receive no background radiation? Do you believe background radiation is somehow less dangerous than man made radiation? I honestly do not know how you reach your conclusions that ANY radiation is so very dangerous.

  233. Claude,

    I searched for that story and all I can find is a reference from 5 days ago that charges would be filed regarding Watts Bar. It doesn’t matter much to our points of disagreement but I think the charges were against the electrician. I can find no record of any charges filed against TVA only the electrician. Perhaps just poor choice of words in the earlier article.

  234. Daryl M says:
    March 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm
    “you seem remarkably blind to the fact that not everyone sees this issue in the same way as you do. You need to realize that you don’t speak for everyone and you don’t get to appoint yourself as the voice of reason. Speaking only for myself, you might find a more sympathetic audience for this sort of viewpoint elsewhere.”
    =================

    None of the things you say above make any sense to me.

    If I were “remarkably blind” to the fact that not everyone sees this the same way as I do, then I wouldn’t have bothered writing a “diatribe” insisting on my *opposition* to their view. Do you follow that? If I needed to “realize that I don’t speak for everyone,” then I wouldn’t have bothered speaking, because anybody else’s speech would already carry my point of view. If I had “appointed myself as the voice of reason,” then I would have said so. And if I had wanted “sympathy,” then I would have gone preach to the converted elsewhere, as you suggest. But because I didn’t, I haven’t.

  235. Re: Doug Badgero says:
    March 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    “I can find no record of any charges filed against TVA only the electrician. Perhaps just poor choice of words in the earlier article.”

    You may be right about that, but I received the news on different days from different sources and both quoting the Knoxville News Sentinel. The following is an AP release that was picked up by Fox referencing the charges against TVA.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/03/24/officials-tva-faces-charges-tied-nuclear-site/?cmpid=cmty_email_Gigya_Officials%3A_TVA_Faces_Charges_Tied_to_Nuclear_Site

    In any event, I’ve made my point as well as I can and you have defended the integrity of the nuclear industry ably. I admire your “power plant operator” profession above most others and have always felt a close affinity to plant operators in general, creating most of my designs with their perspective at the forefront. It has been my observations of group and institutional dynamics over the years that have led to much of my skepticism of nuclear safety. I can’t shake the belief that a statistically inevitable “black swan” appearing on the horizon will periodically undo your efforts to keep us all safe from unacceptable consequences.

  236. Claude Harvey

    It has been my observations of group and institutional dynamics over the years that have led to much of my skepticism of nuclear safety. I can’t shake the belief that a statistically inevitable “black swan” appearing on the horizon…..

    Thank you. I have been paying attention to your comments. I do believe in humankind, I do believe people generally have the best intentions. We would like to believe all nuclear plants around the world will be well watched over. But people are not vigilant 24 hours of the day. And many people don’t think redundancy in safety means a lot, even to some who are educated. After reading your story it only confirmed to me how even intelligent people can be foolish. I wish nuclear power had never been conceived. But that horse is out of the barn. There will be more terrible breakdowns. I cannot believe there are people that actually feel none will happen again. But there were people that actually thought the Titanic was unsinkable. Apparently some in charge on board the night it went down didn’t even believe it either. But a few did know it would. Nothing built by humankind is impervious to disaster. This is why I want the world to head in the direction of coal, but I’m not holding my breath. If there is a coal mining disaster, or if an accident happens at a coal fire power plant, only a few people are affected. It is a sad event. But it does not put an entire hemisphere on alert, waiting and wondering if nuclear fallout will hit where they live.

    I am glad to see your viewpoint. Actually, I’m relieved.

  237. Doug Badgero says:
    March 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Do you believe background radiation is somehow less dangerous than man made radiation?

    ? At the risk of getting into another long explation about the difference between Light and Heat…, for example, Visible Light is not hot, it doesn’t burn, it doesn’t penetrate the skin to any great depth, but, if it is concentrated artificially it can burn matter because of its high energy, frequency. Like a drill bit, you can turn it gently and tickle the skin, or you can intensify it and drill through stone.

    If the Microwave radiation we have as background was as concentrated as we have it artifically in our ovens, we’d all be cooked.

    Do you see the difference? Nuclear energy produced in reactors and bombs is highly concentrated, the effects are lethal short and long term. They were designed to be lethal, to kill people in great numbers. The people who designed them to be lethal and want to keep building nuclear reactors to keep producing lethal grade components for weapons, do not give a damn about the people they kill, not directly and not in the fall out, neither in numbers nor in effects.

    Any psychologists here? Are sociopaths unable to understand they are included in the cardboard cut-out world view they have of others? It’s a strange kind of insanity, Doug, around 6% of the population is estimated sociopaths. They have no ability to naturally empathise with the problems of others and if this is combined with position of authority and the right programming it can go bad very quickly. Those in financial control of most currencies are particularly adept at choosing such to do their dirty work for them, for example, the glassy eyed Blair a prime one, actually believed that he had been voted into power to rule over the people.. In the end, it appears to me, those who have no concept of self in the other, shouldn’t be encouraged.

    Look at the pictures of the deformed babies in Iraq, do you really equate these effects with ‘background’ radiation? Really think a banana can do this? These results are from the depleted uranium manufactured by nuclear reactors, electricity for the oiks is an insignificant by-product to the main reason for these reactors, power and control.

    Gorbachev said in 1988 in addressing the UN: “Further global progress is now possible only through a quest for universal consensus in the movement towards a new world order.” Two years later President Bush said before leaving for a meeting in Helsinki with Gorbachev re the Persian Gulf ‘crisis': “the foundation for the new world order would be laid in Helsinki”, to be established under the United Nations. Now, if you really want to see something funny, try to find the video of Gordon Brown’s speech in Australia not long after he managed to get rid of Blair and take over. He used the phrase “new world order” several times and several variations on that theme, all in about the space of five minutes – not one mention of anything like this in all his time before, no record in Hansard. But in Australia, there he was, the glassy eyed newby full of self-importance spouting the ruling party line. He burned out quickly..

    So, there are different aspects to take into consideration in this, but the most important, is to see that the meme this radiation had little effect even from such a great disaster like Chernobyl and can therefore be ignored as a cause when trying to understand the reasons for the rise of its known effects in the general health of populations is deliberate policy, because, downplaying its effects, and now even claiming it’s good for you, is a weapon being used against you. That’s how cons operate, by giving a bit of truth so you don’t see the lie in the next clause. The amount we get from bananas or from flying in aeroplanes over a lifetime is not at all the same as this all in one hit in a few minutes or hours, or even days and weeks and months from it remaining in the physical world around us. Francisco has explained this really clearly. That’s why nurses and doctors and dentists leave the room when they give you an x-ray.

  238. I’m no expert on nuclear power, but I did take university courses about it during the Chernobyl disaster, and toured Hanford Washington and was fed all their lectures about how wonderful nuclear power is and how they had the best designs. During those times, I felt that alot of the so-called experts were in a state of denial. I wish people would stop comparing a nuclear disasters to being an airpilot, getting excessive chest x-rays or living near a uranium deposit. Getting exposed to unnecessary radiation is unnecessary. There is no safe level.

  239. Nuclear meltdown oozing onto cement apparently causes a chemical reaction with radioactive smoke. A layer of water probably adds to the undesirable fumes. That’s poor planning and design.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/japan-lost-race-save-nuclear-reactor

    Glass is successfully used to encapsulate spent nuclear waste, therefore:

    As a defensive meltdown design, I suggest a DEEP pit filled with alternating layers of dry sand and boron. After the first few feet of that there is a thick solid slightly concave disk of corning glass with tubes embedded in the outer area in a coil leaving the center free to allow a melt through by the radioactive lava. The glass disk could be made of segments to allow for stress cracks. Liquid nitrogen is pumped through the tubes circulating through the glass torus, removing heat, and slowing the growing lava blob of radioactive melt that is also accumulating glass and boron. If it melts past the first glass disk, it continues through more alternating layers of sand and boron. The glowing lava then hits several other solid glass torus disks also cooled by liquid nitrogen and separated by more layers of sand and boron. Nitrogen cooling continues in all disks becoming cumulative. The blob will eventually stabilize into a ball or disk coated with glass and boron, and will slowly stop descending as it cools enough. This technique should keep fumes and radioactivity dispersion at a minimum, simplifying control and clean-up.

    Water cooling works well for the fuel rods when the plant is operating normally, and under control. But when it overheats and melts, water cooling appears dangerous with generation of explosive Hydrogen and radioactive steam releases. Heat management must shift to a dry method to avoid release of this steam and fumes that spread radioactive debris. A drain at the bottom of the pit would release any reactor coolant spilling into it to keep the pit dry. Manage the heat and you manage the radioactivity.

    There is always room in any product for an improved and safer design… especially when the current faulty design results in scaring people to death, warranted or not. It’s our fault to fix… we designed them.

  240. “”PeZzy says:
    March 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm
    I’m no expert on nuclear power, but I did take university courses about it during the Chernobyl disaster, and toured Hanford Washington and was fed all their lectures about how wonderful nuclear power is and how they had the best designs. During those times, I felt that alot of the so-called experts were in a state of denial. I wish people would stop comparing a nuclear disasters to being an airpilot, getting excessive chest x-rays or living near a uranium deposit. Getting exposed to unnecessary radiation is unnecessary. There is no safe level.””
    _________________________________________________________
    You are 100% wrong with your last statement. You are being bombarded as you read this with all manner of radiation. Some of it from radioactive material around you, some from the sun, muons from old supernova are penetrating you continuously. What is missing is education and acceptance of much quality research that has been done in the wake of the 3 big nuclear events of our time, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl.

    I quote from an article I posted in a link above:
    “The real-life studies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors indicate that radiation affects the human body much as arsenic, sodium and many other substances do — they are beneficial in small doses, but can be harmful in overdoses. Yet the conventional scientific wisdom rejects these studies, and a multitude of other real-life studies, in favour of what is known as the Linear No-Threshold Assumption. Under this assumption, all exposure to radiation, no matter how small, is harmful in direct proportion to the dose. It is called an assumption because there is no proof of its validity. In fact, the scientists who espouse it freely admit that no proof for their assumption can ever be had because the risk is too small to measure statistically. In the absence of proof, they say, the only safe course is to assume danger”

    Now I just ask you to think about where you are living in the Cosmos. Life could not have evolved without a defense mechanism against radiation, or to put it another way perhaps life has evolved to make use of the low doses of radiation that is about. Perhaps the current background level is historically low. What is likely to happen when our magnetic field flips? What are going to be the effects of both the earth’s magnetic field weakening and that of the Suns? The only sure thing in all of this is we don’t know, and that your statement just could not be true or we would already all be dead. Remember “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”

  241. Since the core of reactor 2 is now in meltdown. Looks like we might have a bit to worry about. Of course, we can sit here from our black rotating computer chairs in our offices or from our over sized fluffy couches, cracks stuffed full of change and remnants of football game snacks and declare that radiation isn’t so bad. Our media is more of an entertainment industry anyway, writing articles loosely based on facts full of assumptions, opinions and hyperbole. We are used to that.

    So judge and squabble all you want. Would anyone of you set foot within 30km of that plant to test your theories. If given the option would you eat fish or produce from that prefecture.

    Would you voluntarily take your kids into an area that has higher than normal amounts of radiation, if given the choice.

  242. Now Japan has announced that plutonium has been found near the plant. Meltdowns occurred. Just how safe is nuclear power?

  243. Roger unless there has been a new find that I have missed it looks like the plutonium they have found is in the same concentration that you can find plutonium anywhere in Japan. These reports without context do nothing but cause alarm. They can not say where the plutonium has come from, but for sure it is in minute quantities, and could just be a part of the natural background.

    Ryan I suggest you read the science about low dose radiation posted in my posts above. Low dose radiation may just be beneficial, and those exposed to the Atomic bomb attacks in 1945 are outliving their fellow citizens that were not. All your preconceived ideas about radiation just like mine are based on unproven assumptions, and it is up to us as individuals to seek out the truth, something the media seem incapable of doing.

    I’m not suggesting we all take a life extending holiday to Fukushima Daiichi, just that what we have assumed all these year just may not be true.

    Every disaster and failure is an opportunity to extend our knowledge and understanding in a way we would never contemplate under normal circumstances.

  244. From Myrrh on March 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm:

    Your post is full of the same lame excuses and everything is a cause except radiation.

    Are you sure you read it? Radiation is still cited as a cause of cancer, up to 10%, thus as I stated it radiation is swamped by the other causes. That “up to 10%” includes skin cancers from ultraviolet light.

    Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can lead to melanoma and other skin malignancies.[22] Clear evidence establishes ultraviolet radiation, especially the medium wave UVB, as the cause of most non-melanoma skin cancers, which are the most common forms of cancer in the world.[22]

    You want a real cause of an increasing rate in cancer? Look to modern medicine:

    Medical use of ionizing radiation is a growing source of radiation-induced cancers. Ionizing radiation may be used to treat other cancers, but this may, in some cases, induce a second form of cancer.[19] It is also used in some kinds of medical imaging. One report estimates that approximately 29,000 future cancers could be related to the approximately 70 million CT scans performed in the US in 2007.[20] It is estimated that 0.4% of current cancers in the United States are due to CTs performed in the past and that this may increase to as high as 1.5-2% with 2007 rates of CT usage.[21]

    Good, you read up on ionizing radiation. Perhaps you can contemplate the significance of normal ionizing background radiation. Indeed, one can hope, that you could appreciate the decreasing chain of relevance. Up to 10% of cancer from radiation, which includes skin cancers from UV sources like natural sunlight, tanning beds, and these curly fluorescents we’re now plagued with instead of incandescent bulbs. Then comes radon:

    Radon is responsible for the majority of the public exposure to ionizing radiation. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual’s background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs.[2] Epidemiological evidence shows a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer. Thus, radon is considered a significant contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.[3]

    The percentages keep shrinking. The numbers of possible additional cancer deaths due to radiation from power plants is a very small percentage of the total.

    Why the great rise in lung cancers when figures show no correlation between high smoking and lung cancers?

    What rise? From the CDC:

    In the United States, deaths from lung cancer have—
    * Decreased significantly by 2.0% per year from 1994 to 2006 among men.
    * Remained level from 2003 to 2006 among women.
    * Decreased significantly by 1.8% per year from 1997 to 2006 among white men.
    * Decreased significantly by 0.1% per year from 1997 to 2006 among white women.
    * Decreased significantly by 2.9% per year from 1997 to 2006 among African American men.
    * Remained level from 1997 to 2006 among African American women.
    * Decreased significantly by 1.5% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Asian/Pacific Islander men.
    * Decreased significantly by 0.8% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Asian/Pacific Islander women.
    * Decreased significantly by 3.3% per year from 1997 to 2006 among American Indians/Alaska Native men.
    * Decreased significantly by 2.6% per year from 1997 to 2006 among American Indians/Alaska Native women.
    * Decreased significantly by 3.0% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Hispanic men.
    * Decreased significantly by 0.8% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Hispanic women.

    Many decreases, a few remaining level. For the incidence trends, there are two related increases:

    In the United States, incidence of lung cancer has—
    * Decreased significantly by 1.8% per year from 1991 to 2006 among men.
    * Increased significantly by 0.4% per year from 1991 to 2006 among women.
    * Decreased significantly by 1.8% per year from 1997 to 2006 among white men.
    * Increased significantly by 0.2% per year from 1997 to 2006 among white women.
    * Decreased significantly by 2.7% per year from 1997 to 2006 among African American men.
    * Remained level from 1997 to 2006 among African American women.
    * Decreased significantly by 3.2% per year from 1997 to 2006 among American Indians/Alaska Native men.
    * Remained level from 1997 to 2006 among American Indians/Alaska Native women.
    * Decreased significantly by 2.0% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Asian/Pacific Islander men.
    * Remained level from 1997 to 2006 among Asian/Pacific Islander women.
    * Decreased significantly by 2.5% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Hispanic men.
    * Decreased significantly by 0.7% per year from 1997 to 2006 among Hispanic women.

    What “great rise in lung cancers” are you referring to? There are slight increases in incidence among women in general, white women specifically, with incidence rates level to decreasing among non-white women, and nothing but decreases among men.

    Just as we dismiss the extraordinary rise in diabetes as “over indulgence of carbohydrates” rather than the rise in auto-immune diseases from ionizing radiation, and the totally off the wall, “because we’re too clean now”, rather than the breakdown of DNA.

    Ah, so diabetes is now an autoimmune disease? By the National Institutes of Health listing, only Diabetes mellitus type 1, the type one is born with, qualifies. The well-reported “diabetes epidemic” is with Type 2, the “adult onset” version that is occurring very young these days, so young it’s being mistaken for Type 1. Here’s some info from the CDC about childhood diabetes.

    Breakdown of DNA causing diabetes? Are you serious?

    All the while COMPLETELY ignoring the tremendously extradordinarily huge amounts of nuclear ionizing radiation bombarding us for all the decades we see these rises, from which these are its known effects.

    And the descent into nonsensical screeching concludes. You have cited a rise in autoimmune diseases, when autoimmunity is a relatively new research field in medicine with previously-known diseases now being ascribed to autoimmunity. You cite a rise in diabetes, when the “epidemic” is in Type 2 which relates to diet and matches the “obesity epidemic.” You have cited a non-existent “dramatic rise” in lung cancer. US Cancer statistics are available from the CDC here, select “top ten.” The greatest killer for both sexes is lung cancer, for which there is no dramatic rise. For incidence figures, among males prostate cancer is far and away the most prevalent, which BTW is treated with radiation, including implanted radioactive pellets. Among females, breast cancer dominates, note the increased rise in screening and detection. Also, there are other factors contributing to whatever rises in cancer that could be found, such as increased detection and better treatments of cardiovascular disease leading people to live longer, with cancers happening more frequently later in life, as well as the now-discouraged hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women.

    You are citing all these diseases as “known effects” of radiation, when only cancer qualifies. You complain about “the tremendously extradordinarily huge amounts of nuclear ionizing radiation bombarding us for all the decades” when there has basically been little change for millenia. Indeed, one of the largest non-medical increases in modern times comes from our tightly-sealed energy-efficient houses causing increased radon exposure.

    Moreover, the radiation as you specify it would be a continual year-round dosage, not a short-term exposure. At the Wikipedia “background radiation” entry, link supplied above, you can read the “natural background radiation” section. There are places on this globe where “normal” is hundreds of times the normal worldwide average dose, without ill effects.

    Continue ranting if you wish. The science doesn’t support your claims. You may shout “nuclear industry cover-up!” if you insist, when faced with info from medical science, but really, your claims already are ludicrous enough as they stand.
    =====

    From Myrrh on March 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm:

    ? At the risk of getting into another long explation about the difference between Light and Heat…, for example, Visible Light is not hot, it doesn’t burn, it doesn’t penetrate the skin to any great depth, but, if it is concentrated artificially it can burn matter because of its high energy, frequency.

    Have you never heard of sunburn? Have you never been burnt by a black surface exposed to bright sunlight? You’re saying visible light, when concentrated artificially, can burn because of its high frequency? Infrared light, aka infrared electromagnetic radiation, has a lower frequency than visible light, and is “heat” that can burn you. As for penetration, haven’t you ever tried to “look” into your own flesh with a flashlight? With my pocket LED flashlight, I can see noticeable light penetrating through my fingers, through over 3/4″ of flesh. For instrumentation rather than human eyeballs, detectable penetration would be greater. What do you consider “any great depth”?

  245. ryan says:
    March 30, 2011 at 6:18 am

    “Since the core of reactor 2 is now in meltdown. Looks like we might have a bit to worry about. Of course, we can sit here from our black rotating computer chairs in our offices or from our over sized fluffy couches, cracks stuffed full of change and remnants of football game snacks and declare that radiation isn’t so bad. Our media is more of an entertainment industry anyway, writing articles loosely based on facts full of assumptions, opinions and hyperbole. We are used to that.

    So judge and squabble all you want. Would anyone of you set foot within 30km of that plant to test your theories. If given the option would you eat fish or produce from that prefecture.

    Would you voluntarily take your kids into an area that has higher than normal amounts of radiation, if given the choice.”

    It does appear that the core of reactor 2 has melted and sadly that is a turn for the worse, but it still does not make the situation anywhere as bad as Chernobyl, and it does not justify abandoning nuclear power.

    According to IAEA from yesterday, for which there was no further update on this particular topic today, the plutonium concentrations are very small, barely distinguishable from the existing concentrations found elsewhere in Japan.

    “Five soil samples, collected at distances between 500 and 1 000 metres from the exhaust stack of Unit 1 and 2 of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant on 21 and 22 March, were analysed for plutonium-238 and for the sum of plutonium-239 and plutonium-240. (Due to analytical reasons, the isotopes plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 cannot be measured separately). Plutonium-238 was detected in 2 of the 5 samples, while plutonium-239/240 was detected in all samples as expected.

    Concentrations reported for both, plutonium-238 and plutonium-239/240 are similar to those deposited in Japan as a result of the testing of nuclear weapons. The ratio of the concentrations of plutonium-238 and plutonium-239/240 in two of the samples indicate that very small amounts of plutonium might have been released during the Fukushima accident, but this requires to be further clarified.”

    The predominent radiation sources are Iodine and Cesium, both of which have relatively short half-lives.

    As for your rhetorical questions about eating produce or fish from these prefectures or visiting the prefectures, what is the point of asking? If there was a forest fire and someone said “this fire is not as bad as such and such a fire” would you ask them if they would go there? I would have no hesitation to visit Japan and even travel to the gate of the plant, but that is gratuitous, because it would be stupid to fly all the way there just to prove a point. Obviously, while the radiation levels are still very small, there is no point in getting exposure for exposure’s sake.

    You and others can harp about how dangerous nuclear power is, but the fact is, very few people have been injured from it. If it were possible to determine the aggregate shortening of life (measured in person-years) or health care costs due to coal power, people would be astounded, but that would pale in comparison to the greatest killer of them all which is automobile travel. Taking a drive in a car is by far the most dangerous activity that most people participate in, yet few sane people would suggest that we should ban cars.

    The situation in Japan is tragic and unspeakably sad for the people there. I have business contacts there and they are experiencing great hardship. The reality is that 20-30 thousand people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami. To date, no one has been killed by radiation and I would be surprised that statistic changes.

  246. From ryan on March 30, 2011 at 6:18 am:

    Since the core of reactor 2 is now in meltdown.

    Got a link for that? It’s not on the MIT site, nor the ANS Nuclear Cafe Fukushima page, not even the TV network news. When did the reactor 2 core suddenly enter meltdown?

    So judge and squabble all you want. Would anyone of you set foot within 30km of that plant to test your theories. If given the option would you eat fish or produce from that prefecture.

    I’m in central Pennsylvania, the land of coal and radon. I’m about fifty miles from TMI and even closer to the Berwick nuclear plant. I’m much closer to a coal-fired power plant, which would’ve been throwing out lots of radioactive fly ash during my younger years. Heck, we used to have an anthracite coal furnace for central heating. I’ve shoveled coal ashes, dumped them, breathed in a lot of coal ash dust.

    If I could have someone cover for me here, and someone else pay for the trip, sure I’d go, it’d be great. Just one thing though, I want my fish cooked.

    Would you voluntarily take your kids into an area that has higher than normal amounts of radiation, if given the choice.

    Parents take their kids on airplane flights, have kitchens with granite counter tops, even have granite tiles in their homes, which are built with bricks, cement blocks, etc… Parents willfully expose their kids to higher than normal amounts of radiation all the time!

  247. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    ” “From ryan on March 30, 2011 at 6:18 am:

    Since the core of reactor 2 is now in meltdown.”

    Got a link for that? It’s not on the MIT site, nor the ANS Nuclear Cafe Fukushima page, not even the TV network news. When did the reactor 2 core suddenly enter meltdown?”

    Last night I read a report that claimed the RPV of unit 2 was breeched, but I can’t find it today, nor can I find anything that substantiates it today on any of the official sites such as IAEA or NEI. It sounded accurate last night, but I’m not so sure anymore given it has not appeared on the official websites.

  248. Anybody here do spectroscopy for a living?

    I am told by one radiochemist that Cl38’s peaks look an awful lot like I134’s and, given the soup they have on that floor, it is almost certain the Cl38 was a mis-identification by software.

    Most of the other short lived isotopes have precursors to explain their presence.
    For me unintended criticalty is still on the unconfirmed rumor list.
    It’s all over the net from just that one report.

    I worked in a nuke power plant and have seen our radiochemistry guys tearing their hair out over mixed isotope spectra.

    And, I think Criticality would have announced itself more boisterously.

    old jim

  249. bad as it is i see progress.

    personally i believe reports unit 2’s core on the floor are exaggerated.
    has anyone seen a photograph from a robot?

    if the reactor vessel is able to make steam when they pump in water then that’s where the core is.
    and that’s what they are doing.
    that 2 has lower pressure than others says there’s a leak someplace.
    it is most likely a small pipe broken in two or a valve stuck open.
    in simulation world we model leaks as just an open valve.
    that the others can hold pressure is really good news. Great news.

    the progress i see is for days now, approaching a week, is they have been pumping water through the vessels for cooling. And it’s fresh water.
    And they are letting it all turn to steam. That’s why it’s such good news.
    Steam carries away more heat than does warm water so you only need to pump in one-tenth as much if you make steam.
    Water at 60 psi boils at 300 degF.
    So, if you make that steam at 60 psi and hold the temperature higher maybe around 400F you know you’re boiling all the water. And the steam you make will be dry so there’s no water droplets in it to carry along little iodine friends.
    most of your contamination will stay in the vessel that way.

    Those are the two most fundamental things you do in a nuke power plant, move heat and contain radiation.

    So i rejoiced at reports of steam and reactor temperatures in the 400 degree+ range.
    The guys are real smart.
    it is better to let the wind carry that water away in the form of significantly cleaned up steam than to let it keep running into the basement or ocean as horribly contaminated water.
    By steaming they are keeping a LOT of nasty stuff in the reactor vessel.

    Steam scares reporters but we old power plant guys love it.
    Did i express clearly why i think it’s good news?

    Reports yesterday of plans to – Oh My God – inject nitrogen into the vessels to inert the hydrogen!!!! Press is screaming catastrophe.
    Actually that is GREAT news,
    Think about it…………………….
    IF you inject nitrogen now it’d just come right out with the steam. That’s awful silly.
    Plans to inject nitrogen can only mean they are planning two things:

    1. close the valves and stop blowing steam
    2. switch to a recirculating system to cool the vessels with their cores in them.

    Recirculating is what they would have been doing all along had the tidal wave not wrecked all their electric equipment. That they can think about switching back to it means they’ve got heat exchangers and pumps almost back together.

    So they are restoring their ability to move heat and contain contamination by heat exchangers and pumps instead of fire trucks and steam..
    With those two alligators off their but they can resume draining the swamp.

    I worked thirty years in a plant and would love to be over there helping out.
    the radiation fields are high in places but this is not Chernobyl.

    All I can do is honestly praise those plant workers for the progress i see.

    Hoooo- RaaaHHH, you plant guys. Three cheers and twenty one gun salutes to the sky !
    Human beings are at their best when things are at their worst.
    Those poor guys have a VERY long way to go.
    Godspeed, gentlemen.
    And thank you.
    old jim hardy, a retired n-plant workingstiff.

  250. jim hardy says:
    April 3, 2011 at 8:38 am

    “bad as it is i see progress.”

    Great post Jim. Thanks for adding the perspective of someone who’s been there done that, unlike the reporters and activists who obviously don’t have a clue. If you look at the temperature and pressure measurements, they are all coming down. Unit 2 is the only one that isn’t holding pressure so clearly that’s the one to wonder about. Hopefully the workers will be able to continue to make progress until the reason for the leak is sorted out. They are heros.

  251. From: http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/04/84721.htm

    Japan may raise nuke accident severity level to highest 7 from 5

    The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday…(dated April 12, 2011) …….

    Haruki Madarame, chairman of the commission, which is a government panel, said it has estimated that the release of 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour continued for several hours. The commission says the release has since come down to under 1 terabecquerel per hour and said that it is still examining the total amount of radioactive materials released.

    It is likely that opponents of nuclear power will use this, if confirmed, to further their aims of opposing nuclear power in all forms. I would suggest a more sober assessment, based on the assumption that engineering shortcomings at one site should not be used to cast blame on an entire industry, especially when other sites do not suffer from the same shortcomings.

    For example, Fukushima Dai-Ni has many similarities with Fukushima Dai-Ishi, including being located very close (within about 10km), on the sea shore, being exposed to the same earthquake and tsunami with relatively small differences in amplitude, of similar age and with similarly designed facilities. I believe Fukushima Dai-Ni is a little newer. So why did Fukushima Dai-Ishi turn into a catastrophe* and Fukushima Dai-Ni didn’t? Apparently, although both facilities were flooded, Fukushima Dai-Ni had redundant electrical installations that permitted them to continue to provide power to the cooling pumps, whereas Fukushima Dai-Ishi’s only electrical installations were in the basement of the turbine buildings (next to the reactors but closer to the sea). Whereas Fukushima Dai-Ni’s electrical installations were also in the basement of its turbine buildings, it had a redundant connection elsewhere (not really sure where).

    *It is clear now that Fukushima Dai-Ishi is a catastrophe. Whether this catastrophe should be classified as a nuclear catastrophe or as an economic catastrophe is a distinction without much of a practical difference to Japan. Clean up will take decades and the economic cost will be huge. Furthermore, the site has not yet been secured and is still leaking radiation as mentioned above. The human cost will probably be relatively minor (when compared to the total population-it obviously will not be minor at an individual level) due to the Japanese government’s evacuations and assuming continued monitoring and restrictions on food and water. Agricultural loss (land area) remains to be determined, but will most likely be significant assuming the contaminated areas will be similar in shape to the two plumes referenced as follows (quoting from the same source above):

    The commission also released a preliminary calculation for the cumulative amount of external exposure to radiation, saying it exceeded the yearly limit of 1 millisieverts in areas extending more than 60 kilometers to the northwest of the plant and about 40 km to the south-southwest of the plant.

    In summary, this is not “Chernobyl on steroids” nor will it be as bad as Chernobyl IMO, notwithstanding that both may end up with the same INES rating of 7. In this regard, I would distrust any data about the Chernobyl accident, no matter which side of the issue of nuclear power one may be on. There is no question there was, to put it mildly, a “lack of transparency” then that cannot be remedied after the fact. Therefore, it would be unfair to compare Fukushima Dai-Ichi, where there has already been and will continue to be a great deal more transparency, to Chernobyl, where the true scope of the disaster will probably never be known.

Comments are closed.