Fukushima at 3 months

i’ve been in this biz for a long time.  One of my more interesting meetings was with a reporter for Nucleonics Week, which is a very expensive weekly newsletter for the nuclear industry.  We used to get pirated copies of this magazine so we could tell what the industry was thinking.

When i was working on stopping the Temelin reactors in the Czech Republic, we used numerous tactics to pressure decision makers around these plants.  At one point when we were pressuring Austria to block the Czech Republics membership into the EU because of these substandard reactors.  This approach caught the eye Mark Hibbs from Nucleonics Week who came to call on our crowded Hnuti DUHA offices in Brno.

i start from a suspicious place about the nuclear press and i told Hibbs so at our first meeting.  Part of how the nuclear people are able to stay in business despite tremendous evidence of their crimes is that they control the information and the spin brilliantly.  My starting assumption about Hibbs was that he was a highly paid mouthpiece for the industry who purchased his periodical.

He understood and then told me the story of his favorite piece of his work, where his investigative reporting had put nuclear executives in jail.  This was a guy i could work with.

Hibbs now works for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (a big step up in my book) on nuclear issues and has just co-authored a report on Fukushima and it’s global effects.  It is definitely worth the read.

He is far more cautious (and likely more right) than i have been about Japan’s reversal of future nuclear construction. He points out that beyond Switzerland, both Peru and Thailand may scrap their nuclear programs.  And reports that very few reactors were going to be built in the US, even before this accident.

The most important things he points out, from my perspective are

1) The crisis is not over and several of the reactors are still not under control

2) The govt is already behind on its plan to shut the reactors down

3) The contamination is worse than originally reported (Greenpeace pooints out the Soviets evacuated people who were in 1/4 the exposure readings residents are being permitted to stay with in Japan).

What he does not focus on is the country remains in political grid lock as the conservatives try to use the crisis to take over the government. And 100,000 people are displaced awaiting, for an unknown time to return home.

[Update]  i had included in this post a section about this very disturbing report about spiked infant mortality rates in the NW US after Fukushima where reported here in Countepunch.  But my toxicologist friend Will Forest, pointed out in the comment section of this post that this is too weak science to be taken very seriously.

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

One response to “Fukushima at 3 months”

  1. Will Forest says :

    Pax, you know I’m no fan of nukes, but you should talk to your knowledgeable friends before you base your commentary on a random collection of statements like that CounterPunch article. Very little radiation has reached the U.S. from Fukushima so far — and by “very little,” I mean nowhere near enough to cause any kind of acute effect, such as prenatal or perinatal death. Cancer, maybe, but not short-term effects. Regulations for carcinogens are generally set to limit carcinogenic risk from any single type of exposure to a one-in-a-million or one-in-a-hundred-thousand lifetime risk (or one in a thousand, for exposures in the workplace; don’t get me started). The unintended benefit of that standard is that it almost invariably protects against any meaningful risk of acute (that is, short-term) effects. So, I can say with good confidence that radiation from Fukushima is not responsible for an increase in fetal or infant deaths.

    I don’t know if the CounterPunch article was deliberately cherry-picking, but aren’t there other places where the radioactive dust from Fukushima has gone? Did they look at rates in Los Angeles and San Francisco? Hawaii? Western Canada? Nearer-by places like Korea, even if they were generally upwind? And is there any reason to have focused on perinatal deaths rather than the myriad of other acute endpoints that might be affected by similarly high levels of exposure?

    Remember, they’re always going to get their message out successfully; so our message has to always be right.

    Will Forest

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