Good news from Japan: Situation 'fairly stable', says IAEA

IAEA= International Atomic Energy Agency – update here

Story below from the Register:

The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise. It is becoming more probable by the day that public health consequences will be zero and radiation health effects among workers at the site will be so minor as to be hard to measure. Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.

Seawater cooling of the three damaged reactor cores (Nos 1, 2 and 3) at the site continues. US officials and other foreign commentators continued to remain focused on a spent-fuel storage pool at the No 4 reactor (whose fuel had been removed and placed in the pool some three months prior to the quake).

Despite this, operations by Japanese powerplant technicians, military personnel and emergency services at the site focused instead on cooling the spent-fuel pool at the No 3 building, and on restoring grid electrical power at the plant. Japanese officials continued to contend that water remained in the No 4 pool and the situation there was less serious than that at No 3. Police riot vehicles mounting powerful water cannon and fire trucks were used to douse the spent-fuel pool at No 3 with water, causing steam to emerge – confirming that some cooling at least was being achieved. One of the fire trucks was reportedly lent by US military units based locally, though operated by Japanese troops.

World Nuclear News reports that radiation levels have generally decreased across the plant, though they remain hazardous in the immediate area of reactors 2 and 3; levels also climb temporarily when technicians open valves to vent steam from the damaged cores in order to allow fresh seawater coolant to be pumped in, prompting teams to retreat before venting is carried out. Nonetheless 180 personnel are now working within the site where and when radiation levels permit them to do so safely.

An external power line has now been laid out to the plant and latest reports indicate that this will be connected to its systems by tomorrow: final hookup has been delayed by steam-venting operations from the cores. Powerplant technicians hope that this will restore cooling service to reactor cores and spent-fuel pools across the plant, in particular to the pools at reactors 3 and 4. If normal water levels can be restored to the pools high levels of radiation above and immediately around the buildings will be cut off by the liquid’s shielding effect. The buildings’ roofs would normally help with this, but both have been blown off in previous hydrogen explosions.

Meanwhile, plant operator TEPCO said that on-site diesel generation serving units 5 and 6 – which are safely shut down, but which also have spent fuel in their storage pools – has been restored. The plant’s diesels were mostly crippled by the tsunami which followed the quake: the wave was higher than the facility’s protective barriers had been designed for. The prospect of any trouble at these reactors now seems remote.

The IAEA seems to accept that things are settling down: a senior official at the agency tells Reuters that the situation is now “reasonably stable”.

Radiation readings at the site boundary remained low through Friday morning in Japan, dropping to 0.26 millisievert/hour. Personnel at the site are normally permitted to sustain 20 millisievert in a year: this has been raised to 250 millisievert owing to the emergency.

Normal dosage from background radiation is 2-3 millisievert annually: a chest CT scan delivers 7 millisievert. The highest radiation level detected anywhere beyond the site was a single brief reading of 0.17 millisievert at the boundary of the evacuation zone, but on average (Japanese government PDF/72KB) readings at the zone boundary are hardly above background.

Read the complete and detailed report here

h/t to Bernd Felsche via Facebook


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John F. Hultquist

Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”
And with good reason. Examples are being collected:

Bernd Felsche

The h/t passes to MikeW, whose comment on Ira’s guest post Nuke Tsunami Makes Clean Coal Look Better drew my early attention to ElReg this morning.

John Whitman

The info in the article is consistent with info that I am periodically getting.
Stable is a correct assessment.

Doug in Seattle

Doesn’t sound like CNN or FOX News at all. Imagine that!

Phillip Bratby

It was obvious to expert nuclear engineers from the start that the events at Fukushima Daiichi would not and could not lead to a Chernobyl-type accident. It was obvious that the doses to the public would be negligible and harmless. Yet again the media and alarmist greenies have to ask themselves questions. Why do they try and scare the public unnecessarily? Alarmism can cause panic and deaths.

Bob Diaz

RE: Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.
I don’t think that today’s news media could tell a fair and balanced story if it kicked them in the face. Everything is always made out to be far worse than it really is. Remember Y2K, Killer Bees, … ?
News Media Creditability = ZERO!!!!


They are going to apply one of these:
It is one of those concrete pumps with an articulated boom. They can position it pretty accurately. They can probably even mount a camera on the end of the boom if they wanted to in order to get a better idea of where they are putting the water and what impact it is having. I would recommend one of those “self cleaning” cameras they mount on NASCAR vehicles during a race, though.


“And with good reason. Examples are being collected”
I am glad they are including the name of the “journalist” and not just the outlet. I too often hear people who say things like “AP says …” or “Reuters says …” without mentioning the name of the journalist who actually wrote it. This is one of the reasons articles have bylines — so the writer has to take responsibility for the content.

George Turner

John Hultquist, I can’t believe Fox and CNN only scored 5 and 4. I thought they were bad enough.
Anyway, we haven’t seen the last of this by a long shot. The Japanese were pumping raw seawater directly into the cores, along with lots of tiny little marine organisms, including larvae. Certainly 99.999% of those were killed immediately by the heat and radiation, but a tiny fraction surely survived the intense cellular assault have no doubt grown stronger, their DNA split apart and recombined into fantastically improbable configurations, and their mitochondria adapting to use the atomic energy in radioactive isotopes instead of ordinary chemical compounds. Those larvae where then flushed out to sea, where they will grow – and grow.


Sadly, Drudge Report has been probably the absolute worst I have seen with regard to the reporting. While Matt Drudge is only a news aggregator, he seems to have selected all of the most sensational, outlandish, hysterical articles in a quest for even more page views.


If things are stable then why has Japan’s nuclear safety agency increased levels of nuclear danger from level 4 to level 5?

Stable is as stable does. Don’t believe a word of what they say.
Believe only what the videos are showing.
Explosions — I believe we’ve got a problem.
Fires — that’s a problem.
Workers scrambling like hell to get out of there — that’s a problem. Same with evacuating 800 workers.
Helicopters aborting water dropping missions – that’s a problem.
Confucius had an apt saying for this situation: “I used to listen to what [a man] said, and trusted him to keep his word. Now, I still listen to what he says, but I watch very carefully what he does.”
Nuclear industry people cannot be trusted – they know that they have one narrow escape after another and have gotten by solely by sheer luck and a tight code of never talking about the hazards and near-misses.
There’s no guarantee that those grid-powered pumps will even run with the new power from the new lines, after tsunami flooding, after multiple aftershocks, and after multiple and close-by explosions and debris raining on them.
It ain’t over, folks.

It looks like it was the water cannons and not really the helicopters that, both, brought this level of stability and saved the workers from having to go in close to the areas being targeted. Despite reports (by some) that radiation was never high enough to harm humans the need to use helicopters and water cannons shows that it was.
There was also this report, that the Japanese government did say radiation became high enough to kill humans:
It is true that every story from the media had been hyped. But it is still true that radiation became dangerously high at times. That report was not from the media or blog commenters. It was from the Japanese government. But again, the distance that was kept by workers during the time radiation became that high may have saved them in the long run.


Here’s the up-to-date status of the two troubled TEPCO plants…
“Fukushima Daiichi plant
Reactor No. 1 (Operation suspended after quake)
Partial melting of core, cooling failure, vapour vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by hydrogen explosion, roof blown off, seawater being pumped in.
Reactor No. 2 (Operation suspended after quake)
Damage to reactor containment structure feared, cooling failure, seawater being pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapour vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by blast at adjacent reactor No. 3, blast sound heard near suppression chamber of containment vessel.
Reactor No. 3 (Operation suspended after quake)
Partial melting of core feared, cooling failure, vapour vented, seawater being pumped in, building housing containment of reactor badly damaged by hydrogen explosion, seawater dumped over spent-fuel storage pool by helicopter Thursday, water sprayed at it from ground three days in a row through Saturday.
Reactor No. 4 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
Renewed nuclear chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool, fire at building housing containment of reactor Tuesday and Wednesday, only frame remains of reactor building roof, temperature in the pool reached 84 C on Monday.
Reactor No. 5 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
Cooling resumed Saturday in spent-fuel storage pools.
Reactor No. 6 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
Emergency power generator restored Saturday, some fuel rods left in reactor cores.
Fukushima Daini plant
Reactors No. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Operation suspended after quake)
Cold shut-down, not on emergency status any-more.”
The nuclear safety authority are optimistic that power will be restored in reactor buildings 1-4 by Sunday. Status of reactor cooling pumps and associated equipment is not known.
Large satellite image of plant…

Not to mention evacuating everyone for 20 km radius.
Not to mention dooming another large group of people beyond the 20 km radius to “shelter in place” inside hermetically sealed buildings, for day after day after day.
Or the US decision to have all US nationals withdraw to at least a 50 mile distance from the glowing nuclear cores and their overheating spent toxic fuel pools that sprung a rather large leak. The leaks that, oh by the way, came as a complete surprise.
Or the US decision to evacuate any US personnel from the country.
Or the Seventh Fleet moving out to sea to a safe distance.
When everyone is allowed to go home, and school children are given tours of the oh-so-safe nuclear power plants at Fukushima Dai-ichi, then the situation will be stable. Until then, don’t trust a word the nuclear advocates have to say. Their credibility has long ago been completely shot.

Bill Hunter

“international hysteria” . . . . Now that is scary!


Re: evacuations.
That is the law in Japan whenever a “level 4” event is triggered. It isn’t to be taken to mean “there is a problem that will contaminate the local area”, it means “this could possibly develop into a problem that could contaminate the local area”. If you wait until something actually bad happens, you aren’t going to get the people out in time, especially when there is no train service, the roads are blocked, little electrical power, people might not be able to listen to radio, etc. So you evacuate ahead of time.
Radiation levels inside the evacuated area are currently only a little elevated from background. Even 20x background is a tiny amount. 20x “almost nothing” is still “almost nothing”.
I read an article today that the health impacts of the irrational radiation hysteria is actually worse than the actual health impact of the radiation. Yes, radiation can be dangerous but so can the electricity, natural gas, and gasoline that you come into daily contact with. About 100 people a day die in automobile accidents in the US, too. Nobody died today from radiation in the US and believe me, if ONE person had, it would be in every paper on the planet. The hysteria sells papers and generates ad views on web sites. That is the point of it.
Once upon a time, over 30 Chinese workers were killed when they were digging a railroad tunnel in the Santa Cruz mountains. They sparked methane gas from naturally occurring gas in the tunnel. But we didn’t give up building railroads, or tunnels. This incident has killed exactly 0 from radiation and made exactly 0 people sick from it. Yet we have a great hue and cry. It is irrational.


“Or the US decision to evacuate any US personnel from the country. ”
That is actually a pretty stupid decision because you are going to expose them to more radiation on the flight out than they would if they stayed. You get more radiation on a high altitude airline flight than you would get sitting in a park in Tokyo. If you have to endure a TSA scan along your way, you end up with much more radiation than you would get sitting in a home inside the evacuated area.
And about the fleet. There is no sense sitting directly downwind of the plant when you can just move a few miles and get out of the way. Radiation exposure is cumulative. Why expose your people now when they might be needed later if something bad happens? Better to keep their exposure down in case they need to be exposed later.

@crosspatch, interesting. And the school children’s tours? Are the reactors safe enough for the children?
Did those explosions occur by divine intervention? Spontaneous combustion of air and … and… well, nothing?
Why didn’t the helicopters fly directly down onto the spent fuel pool, and gently and slowly pour the water into the pool? No cause for alarm surely!
This is a disaster of epic proportions. All nuclear people should realize that the party is over. The nuclear experiment is over. Now the world must find a way to safely clean up the toxic, deadly, radioactive mess that the industry has created. And somehow do it in a way that does not kill people or shorten their lifespans or give them horrible cancers.
Even if natural hazards are properly identified (unlikely), and those hazards are quantified properly (unlikely), and nuclear plants are designed properly (unlikely), and built to specification (unlikely), and maintained properly (unlikely), and all personnel are properly trained (unlikely), and all personnel exert adequate vigilance (unlikely), one is left with a toxic mess of spent radioactive fuel that must be dealt with.

Roger Sowell
It could be they stopped using helicopters because they had to fly so high above the radiation that when they dropped the water the wind would blow it so that they couldn’t be accurate.
By Wednesday afternoon it looked like the situation was only getting worse. That’s when the US government started getting worried and all the talk about evacuating Americans started. But by late Thursday night and Friday morning things came a little bit under control. The talk by the Japanese government about pouring cement on the most dangerous areas must have started before Friday morning. I wonder if they have put that plan on the back burner now.
The leak in the cooling pond may be from the collapse of the cement lining that left only the steel. But if the reports can be believed that pool’s radiation level is in better shape now.
There’s still a big mess there.

Alexej Buergin

“Doug in Seattle says:
March 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm
Doesn’t sound like CNN or FOX News at all. Imagine that!”
I do not know about CNN-TV, but their homepage was one of the least hysterical (honest!) compared to what european media were publishing; and these were almost “cool” compared the the supergreatest Germans, who were completely out of their supergreatest mind about the Supergreatest Accident ever. The supergreatest soccercoach of Schalke 04, which consider themselves the supergreatest club of them all, was fired (and hired by Wolfsburg the next day).


Ok, lets get things in the proper perspective:
It has now been a week since shutdown of reactors 1, 2 and 3. The decay heat is much less now than it would have been the first few days afterward. They were able to dump the first critical hour’s decay heat normally. That is what saved this from becoming a disaster right off the bat. The heat that is being generated now an be safely eliminated with the current process of flood and vent. Last report I read was that temperatures inside the reactors are dropping. This is probably evidenced by it taking longer to build pressure that needs to be vented. As long as they can continue with the pump and vent process, they can maintain temperatures indefinitely inside those reactors. At this point there aren’t likely to be any more hydrogen explosions in those units.
The primary problem now is spent fuel rods in the holding pools on the refueling floors of the reactors. Unit 1 would have the least problem as if there are any rods in there, they are at least a couple of years old. Unit 4 would be the worst as it was only recently unloaded (about a month ago). Units 5 and 6 had been about 1/3 unloaded but those units now have power to manage the water level and circulate the water to eliminate heat.
Also note that there are about 200 total workers on the site right now. 50 are directly involved with the management of the reactor cores in units 1 – 3 and the other 150 or so are working on repairing infrastructure. This number will probably increase if radiation levels continue to subside. Radiation levels are subsiding. It will subside further if one source of that radiation is gamma radiation from exposed fuel rods in the pools and the pools are refilled with water.
So … the problems with the reactors are stable and manageable. The main problem is the spent fuel. Last information I read said that there is likely cladding damage to the fuel rods but if there is any fuel melt, it would be a very small amount, less than 5%, and not nearly anything as bad as Three Mile Island which had 85% melt and a puddle of core material on the concrete containment basement floor.

Daniel H

We had beautiful spring-like weather here in Tokyo today. I went jogging over by the imperial palace and it was packed with other runners. There were also tourists and retired couples out for a stroll. Then I went and bought some groceries in the busy Shinjuku district where there was plenty of food available despite the hoards of shoppers.
When I got home I turned the TV to CNN International and learned that most Tokyo streets are deserted due to the fear of radiation. I also learned that food supplies are dangerously low (as I unpacked the several bags of food that I had just bought). Then they announced that fuel supplies were also critically low and they showed a random gas station with a long line of cars waiting to get their gasoline rations. I peeked out the window at the gas station across the street and noticed that there were two cars waiting for their turn at the pump.
Does CNN International exist in a parallel universe?

Roger Sowell says:
March 19, 2011 at 12:40 am
Until then, don’t trust a word the nuclear advocates have to say.
I do agree with you in that nuclear advocates do have their own product to sell thus making very difficult for them to be unbiased. And I think also those that feel nuclear is a good way to go will be biased in their defending of nuclear advocates.
If Fukushima doesn’t scare someone about nuclear power then they have a bias. To me it’s the similar the global warming believers that were unmoved by ClimateGate and found ways to explain it away.
There is also a bias in the people that say newer nuclear plants are safe. They leave the letter ‘r’ off the end of the word safe. Newer plant are safer than the older ones. But they are not safe. How much safer than the older ones can be debated. But it cannot be said they are safe. To be that convinced as to say ‘safe’ is to be as convinced as the global warmers that say the science of global warming is ‘settled’.

Allan M

Phillip Bratby says:
March 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm
Yet again the media and alarmist greenies have to ask themselves questions. Why do they try and scare the public unnecessarily? Alarmism can cause panic and deaths
As usual, follow the money. The greenie organizations make their money from speading panic, not from spreading facts. So they won’t ask themselves questions.

Sean Houlihane

The fudamental problem is that the scientists are speaking in possibilities (like the pumps might not restart), and the media seize on this as the only important thing to report. Precautions are taken so that even very unlikely scenarios will have minimal impact. The ‘failed’ helicopter probably achieved their target of washing out the localised air-borne radiation which allowed the fire trucks to get closer.
Yes, it’s serious, but apart from the people actually on site, there is no real risk at all. It also massively increases the data we have about how these things can go wrong meaning small changes can be made at other sites to reduce risk even further (and I’m not talking about better protection for the generators – risk assessment is usually based on surviving multiple points of failure. Rather than working out which weak points need to be made bomb-proof, they need to be made non-essential)
Still, it seems that we get no more data on the dangers of low dose levels since the population of workers is too small.

Al Gored

crosspatch says:
March 19, 2011 at 1:10 am
“Re: evacuations… the law in Japan whenever a “level 4″ event is triggered. It isn’t to be taken to mean “there is a problem that will contaminate the local area”, it means “this could possibly develop into a problem that could contaminate the local area”. If you wait until something actually bad happens, you aren’t going to get the people out in time…”
This confusion about what these evacuations actually mean versus what they are preceived to mean reminds me of the “Endangered Species” lists. Relatively few listed species are actually Endangered. Most are at lower ‘at risk’ levels, Threatened (with becoming Endangered) or most of all, Vulnerable (to becoming Threatened). Most people assume everything listed and their scary totals represents the worst case Endangered scenario but it doesn’t.
Anyhow, hope it doesn’t get worse in Japan.


“The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise. It is becoming more probable by the day that public health consequences will be zero and radiation health effects among workers at the site will be so minor as to be hard to measure. Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”
Oh, yeah! The bomb might have been big, the fuse might have been lit, people might have been asked to leave the immediate vicinity (30 km), and the clock might have ticked tick, tick, tick.
But nuclear experts went in, all was taken care of in a timely and orderly fashion, and no harm was done in the end.
Yeah! Why is all this hysteria?


>>Bernd Felsche says: March 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm
>> Makes Clean Coal Look Better drew my early attention.
But nobody has explained to me how this new CO2 industry can prevent a CO2 blowout, and a Like Nyos disaster of epic proportions.


>Roger Sowell
>>This is a disaster of epic proportions. All nuclear people should
>>realize that the party is over. The nuclear experiment is over.
And the sky is falling, run for the hills……
Roger. You have to understand that energy production is dangerous, it is in the nature of the beast, because it contains – well – lots of energy. The coal mines in China were killing 6,000 workers a year, until recently. Do we close down all coal fired plants too?
You also have to understand that the most dangerous thing if all, is not having any energy. Each barrel of oil contains 100,000 man-hours of work. Rome was built upon slave labour, the West was built upon the slave energy of oil. Remove those slaves, and the empire collapses. And just ask the Romans what happens to your standard of living and the fate of your children, when an empire collapses.
Your option, of running for the hills, will kill hundreds of millions of people and bring poverty and destruction on an epic scale. Nations – like Japan is finding out – do not work without energy. Google the US Northeast blackout (2003?) to see what happened to New York when power was cut for a couple of days. Now multiply that chaos by 100 or 1,000.


Roger Sowell says:
March 19, 2011 at 1:32 am
“This is a disaster of epic proportions. ”
Yes, the Tsunami is surely a disaster of epic proporsions.


To Roger Sowell
There are two things that were happening that create problems
1) The release of radioactive chemicals/particles are a PUBLIC concern. This occurs during the ventings and should there be something to cause the fuel rods to be destroyed in a fashion that causes particles of the fuel rods to be thrown into the air. I’m not seeing a lot of information that indicates the latter occurred at these plants.
2) When fuel rods that have been in use (e.g. spent fuel rods) lose their shielding there is nothing to stop the gamma emissions and this becomes a serious WORKER problem. It is not a public problem because if you are far enough away, you will get little or no dose.
Here’s an example. I helped install a 12,000,000 Curie Cs-137 irradiator in Thorton Colorada back in the ’80’s. I moved every single rod of cesium into a pool of water. I was twenty four feet away from the rods with 20 feet of water between me and them. I got no dose. None. I calculated, that without the water, at this distance I had 1.85 seconds to get a lethal dose of radiation. I also calculated that if the unshielded cesium was just sitting someplace, a person needed to be about 1/2 mile from them to be at the 2 mR/hr (.o2 Sv/hr) line which is relatively safe if you do not sit there for a year. Anyone at a mile was very safe.
I suspect at Fukishima that the water levels in the spent fuel pools kept dropping, thereby increasing the gamma radiation dose in the area. Until they could get more water shielding on the spent fuel, workers were in big danger. It sounds like this happened more than once with workers pulling back until the water levels (shielding) were restored.
I keep seeing folks try to make a big deal about the US Navy moving around. Well, DUH! Would you stand downwind of the smoke from a fire? Same basic question, would you stand downwind of a potential radioactive material release? It is one of the first basic rules of any kind of chemical (and radioactive materials are chemicals) emergency response – Get upwind from the source of the problem. The Navy is not stupid. However, those who are making this an issue have zero common sense.


The British Prime Minister David Cameron was one of the first to cry wolf, offering flights out of the country to UK expats. The guy causes trouble no matter where he is with his seriously pretentious “overly concerned” routine. Always trying to be one step ahead of all the other world leaders, regardless the cost to the Japanese or anyone else who gets in the way of his ego.


The real problem is that you simply can’t believe a word the MSM or governments across the world say about serious situations, like the current situation in Japan.
Spin has become the new paradigm and good investigative reporting and responsible government has become the victim.
Luckily we now have the web and can speak to people living through the event. We can also find out how things work and also good quality pictures from the event. We no longer need to listen to the meaningless babble of commercial and political advocacy groups, who ‘own’ the MSM.
We just need to spend a little time digging around, then apply some critical reasoning to the evidence of what is happening…
Fukushima Daiichi plant situation…

Pete H

Phillip Bratby says:
March 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm
“It was obvious to expert nuclear engineers from the start that the events at Fukushima Daiichi would not and could not lead to a Chernobyl-type accident.”
There you go Phillip. Lets keep our eyes on the Daily Mail and Telegraph for the next few days so we can catch their apology for scaring the public!
To be fair, there were some comments here at WUWT talking the same garbage!


I hope you all say a prayer and offer a thanks to those workers who are battling the problems at the plants. They have to work in full gear: anti-C clothing and respirators or self-contained breating apparatus. They have been working in confined spaces that are hot and without lights. You have no idea how brutal this can be. I’ve only been in a few situations where I had to dress out and do moderate work and it wasn’t dark, confined and hot (well, one time it was hot). Two hours was my limit. I have so much respect for these men who are working so hard to keep you and I safe.

Good point. I reckon 99% of people have not even the faintest idea of the conditions they are working in and have not even thought about it. Confined spaces training is bad enough – it is horrific how quickly you use up the oxygen in the breathing apparatus when the only stress is the training itself (only had to use it once ‘for real’ and then, ironically it was above ground, but suspended on a tripod above water working in the entrance to a flooded entry point (and didn’t need the BA then)). Utmost respect for them.

Ian Wallace

When the Japanese apologise it is about protocol, rather than guilt, according to this site:

amicus curiae

10pm aussie abc reported another 6 grade quake.


We have a saying: “As safe as houses”.
But are houses really ‘safe’? Or are they merely ‘safer’? After all, a house consists of tons of wood, steel, brickwork, and concrete suspended a few feet above your head. That sounds dangerous to me. Let us apply the same standards that we do to nuclear power.
In Japan, we see examples of houses that were hit by a 9.1 earthquake followed by a 10 m high tsunami, and a nuclear power plant hit by a 9.1 earthquake and a 10 m high tsunami. People in houses? Thousands dead. In the nuclear power plant? None so far.
Magnitude 7 counts as a big earthquake, and each unit is 32 times the previous magnitude, so that’s a thousand times bigger than what most people would count as ‘big’. The nuclear power plant survived that with no damage. I bet your house wouldn’t! But that’s not enough. It also got hit by a 10 m high tsunami – a hundred thousand tons of water moving at 30-200 km/hr – and the place was still standing!
Personally, I’m very impressed.
It is perfectly true that things are not fine at the power plant, and while nowhere near as catastrophic as some want to paint it, it does still counts as a dangerous and very serious situation. But the safety measures *worked*. Compared to houses, nuclear power is very safe.
It is the double standard that is so revealing. Nobody is proposing we evacuate our homes, even though thousands have collapsed and been washed away in the Japanese quake, and even though millions of lives could be potentially affected, because nobody expects them to stand up to that sort of thing. But all the reactors in Germany, not previously well known for its frequent earthquakes and tsunamis, have been shut down because… well…, I suppose there’s always a first time. How is this sensible?
Yes, nuclear power is dangerous. But so is everything else. Life is dangerous. Accidents happen. What matters is that it’s far less dangerous than the alternative of going without power.
It’s the same stupid, deranged politics as in global warming. Real and current dangers that could be solved with cheap energy are ignored, while nebulous and doubtful dangers at the extremes of the probability curve demand instant priority. And as with global warming, if you argue then you’re a corrupt shill for the nuclear industry, and can be safely dismissed. I don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is one.


Mar 19, 5:40 AM (ET)

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) – Japan said radiation levels in spinach and milk from farms near its tsunami-crippled nuclear complex exceeded government safety limits, as emergency teams scrambled Saturday to restore power to the plant so it could cool dangerously overheated fuel.
The food was taken from farms as far as 65 miles (100 kilometers) from the stricken plants, suggesting a wide area of nuclear contamination.

Since the contamination has spread inland, I’m wondering
how much contamination has gotten into the seawater they’ve
been spraying on the reactors and holding ponds… which turns into
steam and goes back into the atmosphere.

M White
“Yesterday in Tokyo I met a group of young British teachers who had just been evacuated from the disaster zone.
They were visibly upset at leaving behind Japanese friends and students, and irritated that we all seem more concerned about the nuclear power plant.
Please tell the outside world that the people up in the north need our help, they said, they do not have enough to eat, they are cold and in shock – they need help.”

Jack Jennings (aus)

@ Sowell
That’s just inane drivel not worth the measured thoughts of the folk who took the time to respond. 
People go on about ‘Big Oil’ but this is just the latest example of ‘Big News’. They’re just selling a product and I don’t understand how people are still prepared to pay them for the lies and deception. Maybe someone should start a class action and sue them for all the expense and suffering they are putting people through. How many dead from this latest scare story ?
Thank you to the blogsphere where you can find information that can be tested as @ Tenuc suggested. Here’s a couple I found helpful. A great report by Patrick McKenzie. Prof Barry Brook’s blog about nuke. Anti coal but seems sensible about the nuke engineering. 
Cheers Jack
Chrs J


In response to Leg’s excellent comment. I think there are a lot of people who feel the exact same way.
Those nuclear workers and emergency service personnel are taking heroic actions, as are the men and women who go down the mines all over the world to keep electricity flowing to the masses, only to be castigated above ground by the cowardly green movement that benefit so much by their actions.
It really is time for true greeniacs to go off grid and show commitment to their beliefs, it would only be a tiny commitment by comparison to these modern heroes who give life and limb to keep reliable energy systems running all over the world.
Japan has been held to a massive disservice by a cowardly MSM who promote catastrophe propaganda. It is no wonder that the public at large are moving away en masse from the MSM towards more accurate niche news services like WattsUpWithThat.

John Marshall

The BBC are not immune to the hysterical reporting either or the reporting of supposition by so called science correspondents.
This is good news and should continue to improve over the week end. Well done Japan.


Whenever the media talks about “nuclear contamination” your first question should be, how much? Because there’s radiation everywhere..
“Edano said someone drinking the tainted milk for one year would consume as much radiation as in a CT scan; for the spinach, it would be one-fifth of a CT scan. A CT scan is a compressed series of X-rays used for medical tests.”
“The tainted milk was found 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the plant, while the spinach was collected between 50 miles (80 kilometers) and 65 miles (100 kilometers) to the south, Edano told reporters in Tokyo.”


That the plants started to have problem has, I’m sure been explained: Major earth quake and major tsunami.
That there was an explosion has been explained: The venting of hydrogen.
That the water cannons “failed” has been explained: Not enough electricity.
That they used helicopters has been explained: The water cannons “failed”.
That was why they raised from 4 to 5 for reactors 1 and 3. They where following protocol. Not unlike US does every time North Korea shouts they gonna nuke South Korea or some such.
Today the surface temperature, apparently, is below 100˚ C at 1 and 4 reactor. The water is again circulating in the spent fuel pools at reactors 5 and 6, and the pool for reactor 3 is somewhat stable.
The problem with the spent fuel pools seem to just contaminated water. The cooling water need to be extra clean so the neutrons don’t have anything to interact with. And it takes time for the spent fuel to cool down, that’s why they need a separate cooling pool.
All that was needed was electricity and it is getting restored more and more by every passing day.
Even though the plants wasn’t designed for this massive natural disaster, there has yet to be a cause for hysterical alarm.
Natural disasters themselves kills more people per year than has all the nuclear crisis ever done, yet hysterical people tremble with fear of potential nuclear disaster but venture happily to places like south east asia where during a couple of days several hundred thousand people perished from one natural disaster, in 2004, alone.


Roger Sowell says:
“Nuclear industry people cannot be trusted – they know that they have one narrow escape after another and have gotten by solely by sheer luck and a tight code of never talking about the hazards and near-misses”
Every incident that every plant has had is out there for you to read. Just go to and look under the event report link.
It’s not sheer luck that the nuclear industry has gotten by. The standards that a nuke plant has to maintain is extremely high. Already every plant in the US is being required to review and verify the operability and feasibility of their disaster plans, making sure all equipment will work as is claimed.
If you want to know how the nuclear industry works spend some time reading the links at the nrc’s website. There is also a detailed summary of what happened at TMI since that has been brought to people’s attention lately.


Another release from the Japanese government:
Japan officials: radioactive iodine in Tokyo water
Mar 19, 8:29 AM (ET)

The Japanese government reports that trace amounts of radioactive iodine were detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas, amid concerns about leaks from a damaged nuclear power plant.
A government ministry reported Saturday that small amounts of the iodine was found in tap water in Tokyo and five other prefectures. The ministry says the amounts did not exceed government safety limits but usual tests show no iodine.
But the findings add to public concerns about radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear power plant crippled by the earthquake and tsunami.


“Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.”
Problem is will the media cover the condemnation. I suspect not.
In the end, the image most of the public will have is what the media has presented.
Last night at work quite a few customers, upon CNN on the TV, asked “Has it melted down yet?”


…Police riot vehicles mounting powerful water cannon and fire trucks were used to douse the spent-fuel pool at No 3 with water, causing steam to emerge – confirming that some cooling at least was being achieved

Say that again? Japan owns police riot vehicles with water cannons?
When does Japan ever have to deal with riots? I swear there is no such thing as a Japanese riot.