“It is okay, because no one died”
What we hear increasingly from the both the loony right and (in more eloquent prose) from the nuclear industry is that what Fukushima has proven is we are unreasonably worried about nuclear accidents. “Look, three reactors melted down and no one died”. The piece which is missing in this statement is “… in this news cycle.’
One Aug 1st a robot outside the melted down units of Fukushima detected radiation at 10 sieverts per hour. For most people reading about radiation levels, these numbers dont mean much. But it is worth pointing out the US NRC calls 4 to 5 sieverts received in a very short period a “lethal dose”. Meanings that 50% of the people exposed at this level for an hour will die within 30 days of getting it. Sadly, it gets worse. While the Geiger counters being carried by the robots measured 10 sieverts, this was also the maximum possible reading on the device, it could be higher than this. It is worth pointing out that just 2 grams of radioactive cesium can emit 10 sievert an hour.
Yes, so far, somewhat miraculously, no one has been reported killed by the flood of radiation released by this accident. And given this discovery, it seems likely that this good luck wont hold.
If you want to read about radiological protection people working on the ground near Fukushima, check out this charged (and very non-japanese style) testimony of Prof Komodo and the Japanese governments failure to adequately manage the situation. Thanks to Sapphyre for pointing out this excellent Australian article on what the mainstream media is missing (including Prof Komodo’s remarks). I encourage you to read the comments in this Australian post, they are much better that the often empty rhetoric which shows up on the Wall Street Journal and even the Huffington Post these days.