“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.

Second Hot Spot at Fukushima measured at 5 Sieverts

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.

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.

3 responses to ““It is okay, because no one died””

  1. Bill says :

    Pax,

    I like your blog and respect the work you are doing.

    What do you think about thorium nuclear reactors?
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/02/china-thorium-power/

    Cheers,
    -Bill

    • Jan Haverkamp says :

      Hi, Bill…

      I respect your curiosity…

      But thorium is not the messiah it is advertised for… First of all, it will not be before 2030, most probably 2040 before science and engineers have been able to create a thorium reactor that is functioning on commercial scale. Secondly, it may create less long lived waste, it still does create it – and there is still no solution to it – some of the waste may be “only dangerous for thousands of years instead of hundreds-of-thousands”… that hardly addresses the problem. Thirdly, thorium reactors need reprocessing of fuel… and reprocessing techniques are the key to getting nuclear bombs… they are not at all as proliferation friendly as they are advertised…

      For the time being, thorium reactors look like another diversion from the real discussion: We should invest NOW in real clean energy service sources like energy efficiency and renewable energy sources (which already function *now* and are not an engineering utopia). Don’t let the nuke-boys’n’girls divert your attention all the time. It’s 2015 before we know it and if we want to make a proper chance (50%) of keeping temperature increase in this century under 2 degrees, we need to peak greenhouse gas emissions in 2015… Nuclear – whether it’s uranium based, thorium-uranium-plutonium based reactors or fusion – is not going to deliver that.
      A recent convert to thorium, Stephen Tindale, is advertising thorium as extremely expensive but we can’t save the climate without it… He is right in the costs. He is wrong in his disbelieve that renewables can’t cover the energy service demand the planet needs… It seems that growth figures in that area are difficult to understand in Anglo-Saxon English…

      greetings,

      Jan Haverkamp
      anti-nukes buddy from Pax

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