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Fukushima Radioactive Fallout Nears Chernobyl Levels

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the yeah-but-what's-the-actual-danger? dept.

Japan 537

0WaitState writes "The cumulative releases from Fukushima of iodine-131 and cesium-137 have reached 73% and 60% respectively of the amounts released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. These numbers were reached independently from a monitoring station in Sacramento, CA, and Takasaki, Japan. The iodine and cesium releases are due to the cooking off of the more volatile elements in damaged fuel rods."

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Sensational! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608740)

More sensationalist bullshit. Get this off slashdot, please.

I don't doubt the claim, I do doubt the presentation. Have some respect.

Re:Sensational! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608764)

Is it too early to discuss movie deals involving giant radioactive zombies, animals & fishes?

Re:Sensational! (1, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608876)

I'd be watching for the lizards.

Re:Sensational! (1, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608918)

More sensationalist bullshit [citation needed]

Re:Sensational! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609042)

More sensationalist bullshit [citation needed]

Wow, your clearly not of the level of intellect expected from someone browsing slashdot [citation not needed douche]

Re:Sensational! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609202)

Wow, your clearly not of the level of intellect expected from someone browsing slashdot

That's right, he actually made a smart ironic comment, which is far above the level of what the average slashdot reader can comprehend.

Re:Sensational! (5, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608956)

From TFA:

The amounts being released, he says, are "entirely consistent" with the relatively low amounts of caesium and iodine being measured in soil, plants and water in Japan, because so much has blown out to sea. The amounts crossing the Pacific to places like Sacramento are vanishingly small – they were detected there because the CTBT network is designed to sniff out the tiniest traces.

"Relatively low amounts" in Japan. "Vanishingly small" amounts elsewhere. Yeah, they're really sensationally hyping this one up. /sarcasm

I don't doubt the claim, I do doubt the presentation. Have some respect.

So you think the claim is true, but it should not have been presented? Reporting simple facts now is sensationalism? They should have had enough respect to simply not report it? (No doubt you'll claim they could have been presented in a less sensational manner, which is utterly ridiculous considering, but whatever. Clearly any reporting of these facts at all would be considered sensationalist by you.)

Re:Sensational! (3, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609162)

The problem is the title: "Fukushima radioactive fallout nears Chernobyl levels"

The headline is actually worse than sensationalist: It's an outright lie. Fallout of Cs-137 and I-131 are at near Chernobyl levels, but the fallout, as a whole, is far far less than Chernobyl.

Re:Sensational! (5, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608976)

The article uses scientific notation to give the radiation release in becquerels.

It is impossible to be sensationalist when using scientific notation!

Re:Sensational! (2, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608996)

Yeah they conveniently forget that this was never the problem at Chernobyl. Both Iodine and Cesium are only dangerous if you ingest significant quantities of them. Additionally they have halflives measured in hours ... Meaning these clouds are completely harmless after half a day passes.

The problem at Chernobyl was release of Uranium and Plutonium [oecd-nea.org] in clouds, which then spread around the site, and irradiated everything. They will keep irradiating everything for eons. Soviets managed to vaporize about 3.5% of the reactor fuel (and Uranium does NOT vaporize easily, we're talking thousands of degrees). And made it so freaking hot it could stay afloat for minutes.

Does it really need to be said that the Japanese lost control of exactly 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000% of their nuclear fuel. Wanna bet the author of this story is a "green scientist" ?

The thing is, you need to put things in perspective. Even with the radioactive clouds released, background radiation levels at Fukushima, just outside the reactor building are lower than the natural level of radiation in Ramsar, in Iran (which has a particularly high natural level, it has nothing to do with whatever is currently happening there, it's probably been that way for longer than humans exist). Spending a year close to Fukushima itself will have ZERO observable health effects.

Get some perspective [xkcd.com] (see left upper corner for the increase in background radiation)

I guess we're seeing populist politicians implement their usual strategy : lie. Sorry, ... "Fake but accurate" is the term, right ?

Re:Sensational! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609046)

Mod parent +1,000,000.. the above comments actually had me getting a little worried that it was in fact starting to become a dangerous international situation..

h 1/2 ~ 30yrs, with excretion t 1/2 ~ 10-100days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609132)

Cs 137 is mentioned as having a halflife around 30years and a halflife in the body of 10-100 days. i believe that niacin (the type that makes you flush, as the vasodialtion is almost certainly largely responsible for the benefits) was found to be highly correlated with survival of hiroshima/nagasaki which was consumed in miso in addition to iodine which you probably already know about.

also niacin is being found to be safer and more effective than statins for lowering cholesterol and does not simply lower all cholesterol indiscriminately but lowers LDL and increases HDL as well as reducing the small sized end of the distribution of different sized lipoprotein particles in the blood.

Re:Sensational! (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609142)

Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days, caesium 137 is 30 years. 20 seconds in Wikipedia would have told you that. As you got these two basic facts wrong, I'm not reading the rest of your post. Your ignorance is no better than big media's malevolence, so kindly STFU.

Re:Sensational! (1)

beowulfcluster (603942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609152)

Iodine-131 has a half life of 8 days and Cesium-137 has a half life of 30 years.

Re:Sensational! (1, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609168)

Actually a lot of the death and illness caused by Chernobyl was young children developing thyroid cancer because they absorbed radioactive iodine into their thyroid from drinking contaminated milk from the (wide) surrounding area affected by IODINE fallout from the accident.

So your initial sentence is pretty much how should I say, wrong.

Re:Sensational! (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609172)

ZERO observable health effects

Which is why two workers get beta burns [reuters.com] and daily radiation 30km away from the plant tops annual natural limit [reuters.com] . Refer to this easy to understand chart [xkcd.com] explaining the effects of exposure to anything above the usual limits:

Re:Sensational! (5, Funny)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609176)

"Spending a year close to Fukushima itself will have ZERO observable health effects."

Go for it. I'm sure they could use your assistance there.

Re:Sensational! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609002)

Fuck off you heartless turd.

You nuclear power industry Reputation Managers have been downplaying this since it started.

Re:Sensational! (4, Insightful)

georgesdev (1987622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609184)

I still have some liquid soap left from last year's flu hysteria.
And some air masks too. Who wants some?
There was also a hysteria for the mad cow disease, but my wife did not buy anything, we merely rode the car through pools of soapy water back then (near farms)
The problem when the media says apocalypse is coming once a year, and we're still there the next year is that we pay less attention the next time.

really guys? (3, Insightful)

Seggybop (835060) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608744)

glad to see that slashdot is 100% on board with the media's general nuclear hysteria
[I don't think I need to explain why "nearing chernobyl levels" is a ridiculous description...]

Re:really guys? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608806)

Don't blame me. I voted this story down on the firehose for being stupid.

Re:really guys? (-1, Troll)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608974)

glad to see that slashdot is 100% on board with the media's general nuclear hysteria [I don't think I need to explain why "nearing chernobyl levels" is a ridiculous description...]

Nope, no need to explain at all. If you're against any presentation of the facts that might be viewed negatively, even if it's factually accurate, you're certainly going to object to this. People should not be given the facts if they might be alarmed by them, amirite?

Re:really guys? (1)

Permutation Citizen (1306083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609118)

We would expect from journalists that they give the facts and help us to understand what they mean, but of course, this is asking too much.

Well... (1, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609038)

From what I've seen, Chernobyl was in an area with a lower population density. I mean sure, the Soviets had a different type of reactor, worse response, etc. But Japan's situation could still be pretty bad in the long run, if things don't go as planned.

Sure, the media is being panic-y. And sure, more people died in the tsunami than would die in the worst case of a reactor meltdown. But sometimes there ARE reasons to be scared that are perfectly valid, and those shouldn't be discounted just because the press does well when they incite panic.

worse response? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609066)

I mean sure, the Soviets had a different type of reactor, worse response, etc.

could you elaborate re "worse response"?

Re:worse response? (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609138)

They let the reactor melt down, releasing plutonium and uranium into the atmosphere then send thousands of workers right into the heart of it to put a big concrete casket over it. without protective gear.

Re:really guys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609150)

Insightful? Slashdot is the most pro nuclear site on the web. Might want to check your facts. Virtually a 100% of the posts are pro nuke.

Fear-mongering Technobabble (5, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608746)

OMG, we're all gonna die! Again!

Re:Fear-mongering Technobabble (1, Redundant)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608892)

I know, I died three times last week.

Re:Fear-mongering Technobabble (0)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609018)

I died four times! (But I don't wanna talk about it).

(c) 1982, The Mansons.

Re:Fear-mongering Technobabble (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608998)

OMG, we're all gonna die!

Don't worry, it's a well-known fact that radiation exposure will bring you back as a zombie.

And since everyone else will be zombies too, you won't have to worry about what kind of impression you'll make. (That hot chick's ears will be falling off too.)

Misleading summary (5, Insightful)

znu (31198) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608748)

From TFA:

The difference between this accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel.

That's a really important difference. It means the total release of radioactive material is far smaller. And the iodine, at least, is a lot less scary than the sort of stuff you get from fuel particles -- it has a half-life of only 8 days, so there's no real long-term environmental threat from that. (The cesium is rather worse -- half life of ~30 years.)

Re:Misleading summary (5, Informative)

Eivind (15695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608804)

It's ridicolous fear-mongering to post that we're at so-and-so percentage-level with regard to release of 2 specific radioactive substances, without mentioning that this in no way implies that we're even close to similar in general.

Like you point out, in particular iodine is a short-lived and thus mostly local problem (and even local radiation-levels have been very modest this far). Half-life of 8 days means that it's more than 99% gone in 2 months and 99.99% gone in 4 months and so on. (basically add a 9 every month)

There may yet be larger releases, but -this- far we've got ~20.000 dead due to earthquake and tsunami, and ~0 dead due to radiation released from the powerplants.

Re:Misleading summary (2)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608898)

There may yet be larger releases, but -this- far we've got ~20.000 dead due to earthquake and tsunami, and ~0 dead due to radiation released from the powerplants.

Several people have radiation sickness from high exposure already, high doses have been recorded up to 40km away, and radiation kills long term (unless it's a massive dose), so that's not a very useful statistic. It is useful to know what levels of radiation have been released.

Unless fuel ponds or a reactor burns fully this disaster won't be comparable to Chernobyl, and it's unlikely to get that bad, but we should not play down its impact, which is likely to be hugely expensive over the long-term, given the highly populated surroundings. These reactors will probably need to be encased in concrete eventually and monitored for hundreds of years. After two weeks they still don't have the fires under control; this is a big problem.

Re:Misleading summary (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609040)

Yes it is a critical situation, but not as bad as this hype

The "Several people" are workers at the plant ....

Radiation in this case is mostly Iodine, which has a short halflife but is dangerous if ingested, not because of the whole body effects of the radiation (which are minimal) but because it is concentrated in the thyroid ... this is why short term avoidance of tapwater was advised

Caesium is usually distributed all over the body and is expelled natuarlly and so is less worrying in small doses ...

40 year old badly designed reactors survived the worst earthquake and tsunami in living memory ... not much of a story there

Re:Misleading summary (4, Informative)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609112)

Several people have radiation sickness from high exposure already, high doses have been recorded up to 40km away, and radiation kills long term (unless it's a massive dose), so that's not a very useful statistic. It is useful to know what levels of radiation have been released.

All of these points are, I believe, at least hyperbole, and at worst outright scaremongering.

While it's true several plant workers have been taken to hospital for monitoring after receiving acute doses higher than safety recommendations (>100 mSv), this is many times lower than the typical onset of "radiation sickness". The safety threshold is chosen as the limit of detectability for increased cancer risk over a lifetime, which puts it on the order of 1 or 2 percent increase in lifetime risk of cancer. Given they're doing very valuable work, this is not that dramatic a risk - the risk to other emergency responders in the wake of the tsunami is probably much greater.

With regards to the "high" doses 40 km away, these need to again be put in perspective - it is "high" compared to the local background (although often only 50 to 100% more than usual, barring localised spikes), but there are places in the world where natural radiation is almost 100 times greater than the typically quoted "background dose", and people live there just fine. Combined with the fact that most of this radiation is short-lived Iodine isotopes, a ballpark estimate suggests that people living outside the plant would only see a dose of 1 mSv or less by the time the iodine had decayed away, even if they ignored all the simple safety precautions which can be taken to reduce that further. These doses are well known not to cause any significant increase in cancer risk - long term or not.

And your suggestion of a Chernobyl-style sarcophagus being required is still rather unlikely. Since it appears none of the reactors have actually melted down or suffered a substantial failure in containment in the immediate vicinity of the rods themselves, it's quite likely that they'll be able to take them through a more or less normal shutdown and decommissioning once proper cooling is restored, and the storage implications will be no more serious than if they reached their natural end-of-life. Indeed, if they weren't already near or past their expected end-of-life, they could probably be fairly readily repaired, refuelled, and set running again within a relatively short timeframe. (Indeed, there's talk that this is being considered for Reactors 4 through 6, although that may turn out to not be politically viable).

I'm not denying it's a serious issue - but in the perspective of tens of thousands dead, and many times more homeless and short on food and other supplies, it really shouldn't be dominating headlines in this way.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608808)

Or the radioactive carbon and other material that came from the burning graphite in the Chernobyl reactor. That burned for what, two weeks straight?

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608952)

Yeah, Why does everyone forget the two story tall charcoal briquette burning is why the radioactive isotopes traveled so far at Chernobyl.
Maybe we should REALLY FREAK them out and show the fallout maps from the testing done in Utah on U.S. soil in the 50's and 60's.

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609072)

The difference between this accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel.

That's a really important difference. It means the [...]

And why did you not read the rest of the article, starting by the very next sentence in the paragraph you quoted? You know, the one that says "But these substances could nevertheless pose a significant health risk outside the plant", which includes a link to another article where we learn that

Iodine-131 is the most hazardous isotope in the material, because if breathed in or eaten it can lodge in thyroid tissue and cause thyroid cancers, as happened after the Chernobyl accident when children drank contaminated milk.

But if people at risk receive tablets containing non-radioactive iodine, this reaches the thyroid first and effectively prevents the radioactive isotopes being absorbed. Also, the threat should be short-lived because half of any given amount of iodine-131 decays away weekly.

What about caesium-137?
It could be more of a problem. With a 30-year half-life, dangerous amounts can remain for years in pasture that might be grazed by livestock. That's why farmers in the European "hotspots" most heavily contaminated from Chernobyl were banned from selling their produce for many years. It is not as harmful as iodine-131, but can still damage DNA and cause cancers long after iodine-131 has decayed to insignificance.

Alternatively, if a mouse click was too much for you, you could read in the very TFA that

The Chernobyl accident emitted much more radioactivity and a wider diversity of radioactive elements than Fukushima Daiichi has so far, but it was iodine and caesium that caused most of the health risk â" especially outside the immediate area of the Chernobyl plant, says Malcolm Crick, secretary of a United Nations body that has just reviewed the health effects of Chernobyl. Unlike other elements, he says, they were carried far and wide by the wind.

Well, since you ask, Timothy... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608750)

Here it is again.

http://xkcd.com/radiation/ [xkcd.com]

But it seems like it has been contained now (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608754)

Like all other moments in life, there is a Simpsons quote that sums it up:

"turning a possible Chernobyl into a mere Three Mile Island"

Re:But it seems like it has been contained now (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608950)

Like all other moments in life, there is a Simpsons quote that sums it up:

Sorry, but you also have to provide an xkcd and a reference from LoTR or Dr. Who.

Banana? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608756)

Until yesterday it was more dangerous to eat a banana than living in Tokyo, now they come up that the cumulative radiation released is massive. I didn't RTFA but i think there's something that just does not work.

Re:Banana? (5, Insightful)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608800)

And the "something" that just doesn't work is Slashdot fact-checking.

Re:Banana? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608920)

And the "something" that just doesn't work is Slashdot fact-checking.

False. That's like claiming the wings on your car don't work when your car doesn't actually have wings.

Total Meltdown (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608762)

So does this mean the reactor has officially "melted down"?

FTA: "Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel." So, it's not on fire but... well what does this mean?

Re:Total Meltdown (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608834)

Radioactive materials from Chernobyl were carried by carbon smoke that was slowly combusting as it rose high into the atmosphere, heating the air around it. This is more like radioactive vapor bubbling off of damaged fuel rods that will quickly cool and plate anything nearby.

Re:Total Meltdown (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608944)

I just saw on Wednesday's Colbert Report [hulu.com] that black smoke was seen coming out of reactor 3 and white smoke was seen coming out of reactor 2.

Habemus papam (4, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608992)

"We have a Pope" - sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Total Meltdown (0)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609022)

So have we got a new pope or not?

Re:Total Meltdown (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608836)

Of course not. More than a week ago Slashbots assured us that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi is completely under control.

These iodine-131 and cesium-137 release numbers are totally made up to provoke mass hysteria, as is in fact any coverage aboute situation at all.

Re:Total Meltdown (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608842)

and more importantly, what is a China Syndrome called when it happens in Japan???

Re:Total Meltdown (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608862)

"Hysterical fear-mongering", apparently.

Re:Total Meltdown (2)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608858)

I believe the term is "partial meltdown", where the fuel rods get hot and unstable, but do not go goey like cheese under the grill. From the little I remember from university metallurgy is that essentially these rods are alloys, primarily U-238 but with other stuff entering the mix when the uranium undergoes fission, alloys are known change phase under heat and certain metals bubble out or condense depending on their chemical properties.

Total meltdown is where the rods turn into liquid and drip down into a super-critical pool at the bottom of the reactor. If that happened, you'd know about it, "Fortunate Island" would become more like "Wide Island" than Three Mile Island if you get my reference .

Re:Total Meltdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609094)

Uh, yes, but no.

There is zero risk of supercriticality. A full meltdown is where the core turns into liquid and forms a pool at the bottom of the containment vessel, yes. But the containment vessel is designed specifically to contain a molten core in a subcritical configuration until the decay heat drops off without the core melting/burning through, so it shouldn't cause appreciably worse contamination of the surroundings than we're already getting.

Re:Total Meltdown (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608870)

So does this mean the reactor has officially "melted down"?

No, but the press has.

This is only referring to the cesium and iodine. I find even those figures suspect considering that Chernobyl literally ejected it's core directly into the air. Especially given the rather unalarming radiation measurements all around the area.

Re:Total Meltdown (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608936)

Something did melt because TEPCO measured neutron radiation which indicates a small amount of fission.
What and how much is anybody's guess.

Interview with Chernobyl cleanup director (5, Interesting)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608766)

Speaking of Chernobyl, below is and interview with a former director of the Soviet Spetsatom agency handling the Chernobyl case. He has plenty of published papers [google.com] out there and apparently now teaches and advises on nuclear safety in Vienna. In the interview he gives four scenarios for the Japanese reactors... I wonder what the verdict is not a week later.

Full translated interview:

17/03/2011 Rafael Poch, Berlin Correspondent

Andreyev: "In the nuclear industry there are no independent bodies" "The most dangerous reactor in Fukushima is 3, because it uses a fuel of uranium and plutonium," said Yuli

He spent five years at Chernobyl. Spetsatom was deputy director of the anti-Soviet body nuclear accidents and knows very well how the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) works.

Yuri Andreyev (1938) is one of the most knowledgeable in this area. To Fukushima includes four scenarios of varying severity, from mild to very severe.

"In Fukushima, the most dangerous reactor is three, because it uses MOX fuel more plutonium uranium that France is being used experimentally in two Japanese plants," says this expert.

In 1991 everything fell apart in Moscow. The salary of deputy minister of atomic energy, the position he was offered Andreyev, not enough for anything. The Academy of Sciences of Austria was invited to lecture and eventually settled in Vienna as adviser to the minister of environment, universities and the IAEA itself.

Chernoby is still surrounded by lies, says. The accident was not the responsibility of plant operators, as stated, but a clear design flaw in the RBMK reactors result of cost savings. Proper design of those Soviet reactors required a large amount of zirconium, a rare metal, and a maze of pipes, special techniques for welding of zirconium, stainless steel and huge amounts of concrete. It was a fortune, so they decided to save money, said Andreyev.

One of the resources of savings was to feed the reactor with relatively low enriched uranium, since uranium enrichment is a complicated and expensive. This increased the risks and was contrary to the rules of safety, but supervision in the USSR nuclear part of the Ministry of Atomic Energy. Something similar is happening today with the IAEA, as the UN agency "depends on the nuclear industry," said Andreyev, under which lies and secrets of Chernobyl are now fully present in Fukushima.

Security, money, irresponsibility

"Those who design nuclear power plants are pending on two things: safety and cost. The problem is that security costs money. If you spend too much on nuclear power plant it is not competitive. The accident at Three Mile Island is the perfect example. After the accident was to improve security in a convincing way to avoid repetition of the accident both plants more expensive, they lost all meaning. For thirty years in America was not built a single reactor. Chernobyl was all very complicated but also had to do with economics. Academician Rumyantsev showed that we had to close all RBMK reactors. Simply ignored. There are always people interested in hiding something ... "

What are they hiding?

They lend themselves to compromise on security in exchange for selfish considerations. In the USSR for the cost of uranium enrichment in Japan simply for money. The location of central Japan, near the sea is the cheapest. Emergency generators are not buried and, of course, were flooded instantly .... Behind all this there is corruption. I have no proof, but will not take long to appear. How can I design a nuclear power plant in an area of ââhigh seismic risk, near the ocean, with emergency generators at the surface?. Wave arrived and everything was out of service. There is no error, this is a crime.

What problems do you see with the pools of spent fuel?

The designers tried to make savings with them. The over-filled, increasing the possibility of accidents.

Is this the only problem?

No, there are many more. When a driver has an accident he is solely responsible for having drunk too much. In the nuclear industry there is nothing to comply with a single motive. Overloading of the pools is one aspect. Another is that the earthquake the water drained. Should have such a possibility ...

"The IAEA does not know anything"

What happens when the fuel stored in pools run out of water? It builds up heat. If not chilled, water or air, can produce the most critical situations. We have very little information. Japan does not give the protection. Know the most basic: what damage the earthquake has occurred at the plants, which caused the tsunami damage, what happened ...

But the IAEA should have this information ... Absolutely. He knows nothing. All is quiet. I remember the situation with Chernobyl. The first report of Academician Valeri Legasov, vice director of the Kurchatov Institute, responsible for the designs, the Politburo and the IAEA, was all a lie the more rough character. The IAEA believed it all at once, because the interests are the mismos.Lo same is happening now in Japan. If neglect report would be evident.

A common problem of capitalism and communism, right?

It is the lack of independent oversight bodies. It is a pillar of Roman law: no one can be judge and jury. It's that basic. In the nuclear industry all goes in one basket. The judge was Legasov Chernobyl. Blamed plant operators, who were imprisoned, while he went free, and even claimed that she decorated. A year after the accident, committed suicide by hanging himself ... In the nuclear industry there is no independent bodies. The IAEA mission is to contribute to the expansion of nuclear energy and all that goes against it is not going to disclose. There is a conspiracy, but the default behavior to be expected when you put the goat a gardener.

A lack of information, four hypotheses

What will happen in Fukushima? Could we reach a stage of serious radiation that reaches Tokyo? In the absence of information, we handle hypothesis. I have four. First, if the reactor is cooled, then the radiation will cease soon. Second, if there is no properly cool the reactor and is as present, then the emissions, although not very strong, will continue for weeks. Third, if nuclear fuel is melted and damaged the reactor casing, emissions would be produced in series, which is quite serious but it would be the worst. That brings us to the Fourth, and most catastrophic, ie, if the fuel is precipitated to the bottom and acquires critical mass, then initiate an uncontrolled chain reaction, ie an explosion. In this case, the contamination would be very serious. From this point of view, the worst is the third reactor, because it uses MOX more plutonium-uranium fuel, that France is being used experimentally in two nuclear plants in Japan.

It is understandable why France, full of nuclear critics are so hard to Japan these days.

Yes, but there is more than one reason. The reactors are not French but American General Electric. France depends critically on nuclear energy. If you boot a strong anti-nuclear movement in France, the government will be in a very delicate position. So strongly criticized Japan, to give the impression that something like that is unthinkable in France.

Original Spanish: http://www.lavanguardia.es/internacional/20110317/54129422489/andreyev-en-la-industria-nuclear-no-hay-organismos-independientes.html [lavanguardia.es]

Re:Interview with Chernobyl cleanup director (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608970)

I find your Babelfish to be unintelligible: Apparently, they're translating from Russian to Spanish to English.

Much is lost.

Would a native Spanish speaker care to contribute a better translation of the linked and translated article, or (much better) a native Russian speaker care to find the interview in its original dialect and convert it (even in brief) to English in one step?

Please?

Re:Interview with Chernobyl cleanup director (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609136)

The accident was not the responsibility of plant operators... The IAEA does not know anything...

the guy is just seeking some media attention with this. check out some details of the experiment [wikipedia.org] that lead to the disaster.

relax... (0)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608788)

its just a melt down...

Another day another troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608794)

In what universe is 60% and 73% near 100%? perhaps in a Microsoft progress bar world but these levels are still far from Chernobyl levels.

Re:Another day another troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609106)

It's the same order of magnitude. That's pretty close when using scientific notation.

Relevant arXiv paper (2)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608798)

For those who don't know, the University of Washington has one of the best nuclear physics programs in the US.

Turns out they do detect trace amounts of iodine-131 in the air, but nowhere near Chernobyl levels.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1103.4853v1 [arxiv.org]

Bottled water and meltdown (5, Informative)

no known priors (1948918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608840)

Reporting live from Tokyo (well, just on the outskirts, but def. part of the greater Tokyo area):
People here have bought up massive amounts of bottled water, though apparently the level of radioactive iodine has fallen below the maximum legal limit for infants (which is one third for that of adults). Milk is also in short supply. Two days ago, two supermarkets near me had no milk, or plain bottled water. (Haven't looked since then.)

On the subject of meltdowns, there is no "official" meaning to the term. But, I would say that at least a couple of the reactors have "melted down" (I haven't really been paying attention to the news, so I don't know if any of the others have or not). Anyway, fun facts, the "precautionary" safe limit of 80 KM set by the US government (and then the Australian government), for folks, was apparently worth setting. At least one village outside the 30 KM radius has had really high levels of radioactive iodine get into the water.

Me, I'm staying in Tokyo until things get really bad. But, I imagine, at least a couple of million of the other residents would also want to leave at that time too. So...

Re:Bottled water and meltdown (1, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608926)

Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608844)

Excellent article on Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: http://outsideonline.com/adventure/travel-pf-201103-chernobyl-wildlife-refuge-sidwcmdev_154483.html

Apparently the Chernobyl area is now full of very happy wlld animals, now the humans have left, and the animals have so many birth defects, you could almost say evolution has been sped up.

""In other words, new animals could actually be in the making here. The area has become a laboratory of microevolution—"very rapid evolution," says Igor—but no one knows what will emerge or when.""

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608924)

Only a mad man would compare evolution with radioactive mutation.

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609006)

That would make me mad.

Could you describe the difference between evolution caused by increased radiation and evolution caused by what ever else? Evolution is just changes and nothing more. Stuff happens and sometimes it turns out to be something that changes things.

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (4, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609154)

Could you describe the difference between evolution caused by increased radiation and evolution caused by what ever else? Evolution is just changes and nothing more. Stuff happens and sometimes it turns out to be something that changes things.

No, evolution is not just changes. Evolution is the effect of long term adaptation of a population to the environment through the combined effects of mutation, natural selection and reproduction. Mere mutation alone doesn't give you evolution.

The speed of evolution is not directly proportional to the mutation rate. If the mutation rate is too high, beneficial mutations are quickly swamped in harmful mutations, and unable to contribute to an increased chance of reproduction. What does speed up evolution is a change in environment. I bet Chernobyl will result in organisms in the area being more resistant to radiation and radioactive pollution.

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609012)

Only a mad man would compare evolution with radioactive mutation.

So, should we call it "intelligent design" then?

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609032)

You mean only a mainstream neodarwinist? radioactive mutation is no different from any other mutation, and mutation/natural selection has been the standard model since people gave up on the ridiculous concept of pangenetics. Hopeful-monster and its punctuated equilibrium friends are still minority models.

Re:Chernobyl: wild animals and rapid evolution (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609086)

Evolution requires mutation. Whether the cause is radiation, or "natural" (which could be radiation anyway, just lower levels) is irrelevant to whether the mutation is related to evolution.

lets hope (1)

andregere (2025844) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608852)

I hope fukusima not like Chernobyl, and the Japanese government could resolve the issue. and all the people of the world can calm down.

Fukushima (3, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608910)

There are immediately several posts expressing scepticism about this story. You people need to set that instinct aside for a moment. I am not [slashdot.org] an anti-nuke hysteric. Allow me the benefit of the doubt.

Recent reports from Japan are trending towards large amounts of contamination. Levels of Caesium and Iodine in the sea are very high. Soil samples are turning up large amounts of contamination. Tokyo tap water (200 km away) is contaminated. Vegetables in Hong Kong are accumulating Caesium that exceed limits. I have been monitoring Kyodo and NHK news and the degree of contamination being reported is disturbing.

Today's events include severe radiation burns on two workers, acknowledgement of containment failure in No.3 (MOX reactor,) an increase of the evacuation radius from 20 to 30 km and an order to greatly increase radiation monitoring at the site. Unexplained bursts of various gases have been forcing worker evacuations throughout the week. Fukushima didn't end when the news cycle cut over to Libya.

Fukushima has been releasing vapour directly into the atmosphere from reactor pressure vessels in which fuel damage has occurred. There is no precedent for that procedure in the history of nuclear technology, there has been no opportunity to directly measure the contamination of these releases, so there is no credible information on the actual amount of contamination being released from these vessels. There is no credible information on the amount of spent fuel that was lofted by the spent fuel pool fires. There is no accounting of the amount of contamination flowing off the site due to the use of water cannons.

DO NOT discount reports of contamination. DO NOT dismiss out of hand comparisons of Fukushima with Chernobyl.

I can't find a way to sugar coat that. Sorry.

Re:Fukushima (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608946)

DO dismiss out of hand comparisons of Fukushima with Chernobyl. Because they're completely different events, at differently designed nuclear power plants, with a completely different level of response from the local authorities. Even in the absolute worst case scenario, Fukushima will never be anywhere near as bad as Chernobyl was in terms of deaths, long term damage to the environment or cost & duration of cleanup.

Re:Fukushima (0)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609170)

That is not entirely true. Fukushima is close to very large population centers. Even with much less radioactive pollution, it could still cause more deaths, cancer and birth defects than Chernobyl. Of course in order for that to happen, absolutely everything that can possibly go wrong has to go spectacularly wrong, and the news of the past few days has to be way too optimistic, so it's extremely unlikely that it'll be worse than Chernobyl, but it's not completely impossible.

Re:Fukushima (1)

NuShrike (561140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608954)

No, sounds like they're finally feeding water into it which is allowing boil off and so some radiation release. Two very different hings. Do not conflate it with the fact the are fixing things and it's under more cooling control than left alone.

Levels of cesium and iodine are from direct runoff and in the direction of venting. The levels are still nothing to worry about unless you're in the direct area. Tap water was being fed by the Edo river from the north into Tokyo's water. That's just another red herring vector they fixed. At the tap, it's so diluted, it's not an issue. How are vegetables in HK accumulating unless it's getting shipped from JP?

The severe burns was because they walked around in the water pools that they didn't know had lots of radiation contaminants in it. A result from all the water dumping, and "washing" of the reactors. Just a silly accident. They are not sure what impact pumping impure water into the reactors is having and probably resulting in some corrosion. Also turning on machinery after the explosions is expected to have lots of smoke as they work out what got damaged.

Man, it gets tiring to cool your hysteria, even for 3-digit. You can read all the Armageddon you want into anything.

Re:Fukushima (1)

android.dreamer (1948792) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609060)

This would make a lot more sense to me if we can see what the levels are now on the XKCD chart. If it is still at chest CT Scan, then things aren't that bad, I guess.

Re:Fukushima (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608972)

I agree that it is foolish to dismiss the seriousness of the situation in Japan, but I have some corrections.

I've only read reports on vegetables imported from Japan in various countries (HK/China/Taiwan) that exceed safety limits. They have acknowledged the possibility of containment failure in #3. They have not increased the evacuation radius to 30km, they are advising people to evacuate voluntarily as trucking companies are reluctant to deliver to the area, after 2 weeks supplies will be very low.

They have however, observed neutron beams 13 times in the plant, and that the flooded reactors have high levels of radiation (possible containment failure as indicated). They have managed to restore power to #5 and #6 and hopefully will be able to restore the pumps in the other 4 reactors.

Re:Fukushima (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608982)

I am not an anti-nuke hysteric.

I'd kind of like to be a pro-nuke non-hysteric, but alas, it seems that our species lacks either the brains or the willpower to use designs that are proof against earthquakes and Soviet-quality engineering, or to plan ahead on what we're going to do with all the spent fuel and other nasty sh*t that you wouldn't want them dumping in you back yard.

Re:Fukushima (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609014)

Even if the cores don't melt down into puddles - it looks like the containment vessel on the MOX reactor is breached somewhere and very hot (in both senses of the word) particles are escaping. May be a little may be a lot - but it's going to keep coming out for a while.

Worst case, if any cores do melt into puddles in the bottom of the reactors there's not supposed to be a bang - but it's never been tested, and convection may or may not concentrate different materials and reach a critical mass. Won't be big bang, but it'll probably blow most of the core into the air - a dirty bomb, without the excuse of terrorists.

Best case: What's been happening to all that water that's been poured onto hot cores ?, well it's either turning into steam and carrying radioactive material away, or running downhill into the sea, again, carrying radioactive material away - in the later case, since highly corrosive sea water was used for cooling, it's unlikely to NOT contain decent quantities of core material. I'm not criticising the decision to use sea water for cooling - but all that water doesn't just disappear and it didn't just waft past the cores without picking up material.

All this in a really densely populated part of the world - which used to have a really high per-capita consumption of fish. I doubt their neighbours will be best pleased by this either.

This isn't going to be "as bad as Chernobyl" - once the dust has settled (sorry about the pun) this will be "worlds worst" by quite a margin.

Re:Fukushima (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609140)

This isn't going to be "as bad as Chernobyl" - once the dust has settled (sorry about the pun) this will be "worlds worst" by quite a margin.

You mean worse than the explosion of a core containing 16 tons of Uranium and Plutonium?

Re:Fukushima (4, Informative)

orangedan (1643169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609036)

As for the levels in the water, they appear to have gone done quite quickly [nuclearsafety.gc.ca] . Personally, I trust these guys because they give strict facts and no speculation. I have yet to see any reports of Hong Kong vegetables, but I admit I'm too lazy to google. That said, my (again, admittedly) knee-jerk reaction is to point out all the sketchy stuff in the past with China and other food products and ask if it might not be something else.

Things are slowly getting better. It wasn't the best two weeks, but life in Japan goes on as normal. That said, I'm down in Kyoto, which is pretty far from it all.

Re:Fukushima (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609090)

DO NOT discount reports of contamination. DO NOT dismiss out of hand comparisons of Fukushima with Chernobyl.

I can't find a way to sugar coat that. Sorry.

The scary contamination in Tokyo is between 0.3% and 1.5% of the radioactive exposure you get from smoking one cigarette. Scary, isn't it?

Re:Fukushima (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609122)

Anybody else catch the great 'news math' used in the article? I really have no choice but to dismiss an article that cannot demonstrate an understanding of exponents. Readings from California during the Chernobyl event and readings from Japan a week have nothing in common; the equipment used is not the same in any regard, not in the same location, and Chernobyl is further away than Japan with two large masses of land between them so comparing the findings must be just orgasmic for any reporter with no sense of integrity and hell for the rest of us. "Out of hand", by its own definition, is very dismiss able. If this situation is handled without critical thinking, logic, and objectivity then we are all no better off than if the situation were to be completely ignored.

Re:Fukushima (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609160)

So are you still reading NHK news? Because the radiation in the water is gone. This is the magic thing about the contamination they are measuring. It's all Iodine and Caesium. These are highly dangerous radioactive materials ... for an incredibly short period of time. If all Chernobyl released was Iodine and Caesium it would be a bustling metropolis right now. Radiation hear now gone the next is not a problem. The people who suffer radiation sickness work at the reactor. That's par for the course inside the building, however outside the fence radiation levels are bouncing around between the levels of background radiation and an international flights worth.

You're not an anti-nuke hysteric. You're just uninformed on the topic and as such are eating the media bullshit. There is no comparision to be made with Fukushima and Chernobyl. Not even a remote one.

Title for next game in the series: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35608934)

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Fukushima?

Becquerels per day??? (1)

Mnicus (2025862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35608948)

Could someone care explaining what becquerels per day exactly means? 1Bq = 1 nucleus decay / second. So what the hell is "1.2 to 1.3 × ... becquerels per day"?

Re:Becquerels per day??? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609196)

Might help http://www.hps.org/publicinformation/ate/faqs/radiation.html [hps.org]
"The SI system uses the unit of becquerel (Bq) as its unit of radioactivity. One curie is 37 billion Bq. Since the Bq represents such a small amount, one is likely to see a prefix noting a large multiplier used with the Bq as follows .." see web page for more
Then think about
http://www.zerohedge.com/article/summary-key-health-threats-fukushima-radioactive-substances [zerohedge.com]

Comparisons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609016)

"The number of Japanese people affected by the radiation is thousands of times higher than in the Chernobyl accident!"

sanger churches (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609058)

There is a really great article connecting this to Bible prophecy at http://www.crosspointechurch.co/

Crosspointe Church
sanger churches | churches sanger
http://www.crosspointechurch.co/

Re:sanger churches (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609120)

Please don't spread crap and tell me I'm going to die because I'm deliberately refusing to "follow orders".

Additionally, don't spam it anonymously (so we can at least block you out if we so wish), and at least have the decency to do less advertising of your church in your post than linking to a "relevant" article - I mean, come on - keyword spamming?

The really *annoying* part of evangelism such as this is that if you'd just posted the link without all the crap attached to it (from the keyword spamming and double-links, to failing to link to your article directly), people would probably be more inclined to read it. For people who are trying to convince others to make huge changes to their life, evangelists are inherently terrible at actually convincing people and have zero knowledge of effective PR.

Re:sanger churches (1)

k2r (255754) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609128)

There is a really great article connecting this to Bible prophecy

Yes, and my cat told me he read from the poo in it's litterbox that the world is going to end soon, too.
I'm still amazed of the state of mind of those people.

I live in Sacramento (0)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609116)

Maybe I'm racist for saying this, but I've always assumed air smelled of ramen, sea stank, maybe a little less uranium isotopes, & seafood (fried squid, etc)...

spontaneous outbreaks of peace rumoured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609156)

difficult times have been known to be associated with the societal quirk. the unapproved passivity is being appropriately vaporized by our rulers.-- wee key (diaper) leaks group, perishability pending

When'll mitigation effort reach 73% of Chernobyl? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609200)

> The cumulative releases from Fukushima of iodine-131 and cesium-137 have reached 73% and 60% respectively of the amounts released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

If only the japanese mitigation effort would reach 73% or just 60% of the Chernobyl event! The 280 or japanese workers running errands on-site is a joke, there should be maybe 280,000 people there, all shovelling! World famed japanese physicist Michio Kaku has been outright begging the government for over a week, to enter "Chernobyl sarcophagus" mode.

The "free world" still does not comprehend how massive, efficient and well-organized the 1986 soviet clean-up operation was. They denied anything happened for two days until Sweden dropped the bomb in the world press and then the soviet military-civil defence complex started to roll. Hundreds or armoured vehicles, several dozens of giant Mil helicopters, many battalions of conscript soldiers and miners, as well as underground railway diggers wrere sent to the area. They buried the reactor in sand and lead, then entombed it in concrete and steel, as well as digging a tunnel under it to install cooling pipes, to prevent a "China syndrome". (The latter work project was not necessary in hindsight, but nobody knew better right then and they did it anyhow). There was little improvisation on the spot, as USSR was well-prepared for a total thermonuclear WW3 and had many domesday schedules pre-planned, hence their efficiency at Chernobyl.

It is doubtful any western country could match that, since there is too much individual liberty. Soviets knew many of the "liquidator" workers are to die horribly, but if they did nothing all of the former USSR, west of the Ural mountains would be uninhabitable now due to fallout. Moscow does not believe tears!

Where is the kamikaze spirit in Japan? If their people refuse to sacrifice themselves in significant numbers, the nuclear spew-out will cover most of their main inslands. Where will they move then, to the Antarctica, all the almost 130 million people? Japanese people please, remember your duty to the Emperor, the Shinto religion and your ancient Nihon land!

Braindamage? (3, Insightful)

zmooc (33175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609216)

This article is full of errors major errors, including the title/conclusion.

They're typically off by about a factor 10; they seem to have ignored the exponent when calculating the percentages they use to conclude Fukushima is nearing Tsjernobyl levels. Where they state that Tsjernobyl put out 70% more caesium-137 than Fukushima, it's actually 1700%. Where they state that Tsjernobyl put out 50% more Iodine-131 it's actually 1400%. These numbers are based on the readings provided by the article.

Apart from that the comparison simply makes no sense for a 1000 other reasons. Remote detectors for airborne radioactive particles cannot reliably provide an indication of what the reactor put out, especially given the fact that Tsjernobyl was a fire releasing all kinds of aerosols while Fukushima releases mostly gasses that probably get carried much futher by the wind and do not pollute the grounds in the perimeter of the reactor as much as Tsjernobyl.

Furthermore, Tsjernobyl started out with explosion that probably released a huge quantity of especially iodine in one big blast, not leaving quite that much for the "aftermath" (which this article makes a comparison with). Also, what they fail to mention is the deadly mix of compounds other than iodine and caesium released by Tsjernobyl.

This is nothing like Tsjernobyl and it will not become anything like it either. Stop the FUD please.

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