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Little Health Risk Seen From Fukushima's Radioactivity

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-do-we-scare-people-with-this-information dept.

Japan 201

gbrumfiel writes "Two independent reports show that the public and most workers received only low doses of radiation following last year's meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Nature reports that the risks presented by the doses are small, even though some are above guidelines and limits set by the Japanese government. Few people will develop cancer as a result of the accident, and those that do may never be able to conclusively link their illness to the meltdowns. The greatest risk lies with the workers who struggled in the early days to bring the reactors under control. So far no ill-effects have been detected. At Chernobyl, by contrast, the highest exposed workers died quickly from radiation sickness."

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But but but but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092619)

Nuklear! Evil!

Re:But but but but... (3, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092729)

You're obviously not a real anti-nuke activist. If you were, you'd know it's pronounced "nuke-yu-lar", as in "these power plants will nuke you!"

RADIATION IS SAFE! (0, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093077)

Nuclear energy is clean, and too cheap to meter.

In other news, the gulf seafood is fine! Eyeless shrimp are actually easier to peel!

Signed,
The Vested Defenders of Absolute Truth

Re:But but but but... (2)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093743)

It's true. If they don't nuke you now, they will nuke you la'r.

Re:But but but but... (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094539)

In my experience, it's the pro-nuke people who say "nuke-you-lur." Witness George Bush, for instance. Anti-nuclear activists generally know how to pronounce the word.

No. (4, Informative)

Grog6 (85859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094517)

Nuclear tech saves many lives every day(Cancer treatment and detection), as well as powering the most likely long term energy solution.

The Japanese did not use graphite moderated reactors for very well known reasons, Chernobyl being the best example of those reasons... (Negative steam void reactivity coefficient, was a major one, iirc.)

The reactors at Chernobyl were pretty much updated versions of the ones we built during WWII to make plutonium, also iirc.

Idiocy=Bad.

Any tech is only as bad or good as what you use it for, and how you use it is your problem to explain.

Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092645)

You know, I'm really considering selling this damned Y2K bunker.

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (3, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092699)

Who the hell buys a bunker? Assuming it's in your backyard (what better place to make a personal bunker?), how does the buyer access it?

Or you could just add a coat of spray-paint, throw some fake blood around, add a few torture instruments, sell some tickets, and have your very own tourist trap.

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (4, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092779)

why sell it? decorate it and market it to your wife as an mother-in law apartment.

after she moves in, disconnect the ventilation one night

Sell tickets to the horror room later.

That is called win win win.

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (0)

kdawson (3715) (1344097) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092985)

Oooh, libertarians are stupid and slaves. Aaah, you are so insightful. Man, did you go to collage? I want to go to collage one of these days!

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093119)

Oooh, libertarians are stupid and slaves.

No, right now they're just stupid. But give them time.

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093103)

Take the twinkies and mt dew out, and call it a tornado shelter. Its the trendy new hot topic here in the midwest ... for the last two centuries or so.

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094039)

No, keep it. Use it as a movie theater, hideout, etc. :)

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (-1, Flamebait)

FirstOne (193462) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094255)

Any work published by UNSCEAR, a branch of the IAEA should be treated as trash..

I quote a few paragraphs from an op-ed written by Joe Giambone, since I couldn't express my disgust any better than he has done already, Nuclear Nightmare Worsens - By Joe Giambrone (22/6/11) [futurefastforward.com]

"Send in the Clowns

The United Nations has already ramped up its UNSCEAR ostrich team. Its chairman Wolfgang Weiss was asked what health effects Japan would suffer, after the numerous Terabequerels discharged. Weiss replied, "From what I know now, nothing, because levels are so low."

Weiss and UNSCEAR have discredited themselves before they even got started. Their goal is to collect reams of data in the first two years, long before the cancers begin to metastasize, then claim victory for the atom and move on.

Weiss openly lied when he said, "The only proven effect after Chernobyl was thyroid cancer in children." Anyone who's even glanced at the Chernobyl disaster knows numerous people died, including thousands of "liquidators" the Soviet conscripts who cleaned up the mess. Independent research flies in the face of the UN cover-ups and places mortality at approximately one million casualties (Yablokov, 2009).

Weiss, the current UNSCEAR head, claimed:
"In Fukushima, the people were evacuated before any [radioactive] release took place..." (Reuters)
What? Another lie! What nonsense is this man floating as trial balloons? Nothing of the sort happened. Hundreds of thousands are still there, now, living in contaminated regions blanketed with Cesium 137.

Have no illusions about UNSCEAR and the IAEA. It is their job to make this go away, pretend all is fine. Cancers can take decades to form, and cancers are not counted by UNSCEAR, excepting the glaringly undeniable childhood thyroid variety. Here's an aside: If UNSCEAR admits that radiation releases cause thyroid cancers, is it not at least conceivable to them that the absorbed radiation is also causing other illnesses as well?

Numerous other maladies: birth defects, stillbirths, heart, lung, brain, organ diseases will certainly not be counted, and their victims will be ignored by the UN agencies. That means they never happened, right?

UNSCEAR and IAEA have turned science on its head with a logical fallacy that seems to pass unnoticed in the media. They claim that because there are "no biomarkers specific to radiation, it is not possible to state scientifically that radiation caused a particular cancer in an individual." (UNSCEAR, 2008) And they use this as some kind of insane proof that the cancers were not caused by radiation.

The UN then prepares faulty, fraudulent "death toll" counts that omit cancers when there is no scientific basis for omitting them. The "no biomarkers" logic cannot be used to rule out that radiation caused cancers: it's then an unknown. Radiation doesn't just magically lose its carcinogenic properties because of a faulty screening condition that disqualifies people from being counted. These are gradeschool shenanigans gone global."

Re:Weesa all NOT gonna die?!? (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094661)

While you're thinking about selling real estate, consider the resale value of any property within the fallout zone of Fukushima. People will continue to live there, whatever the risks, because they will not be able to leave. Even if this report is correct, which seems unlikely, the long-term fallout from Fukushima will be incredibly costly. These costs need to be insured against; if they were, unsafe reactors would no longer be competitive with renewable sources of energy.

Chernobyl... (4, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092665)

The biggest issue in this whole incident was the comparison with Chernobyl. The slightest mention of that name creates panic. Compare something to it, and you'll get a mass of hysterical people.

Of course, that is the approach taken by most media these days.

Re:Chernobyl... (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092717)

The slightest mention of that name creates panic.

Of course it creates panic, especially if you're big on health and safety regulations. "We want you to clean up the roof of a reactor building that has exploded, with shovels and with no hazmat and radiation protection" has never been high on anyone's list of top job assignments. The Japanese at least use a different approach.

Re:Chernobyl... (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093545)

At the levels of radiation involved at Chernobyl, I suspect that no radiation protection that existed at the time would have helped prevent most of the deaths. Traditional hazmat suits predominantly are intended to prevent inhalation and direct contact with radioactive materials when operating in areas of moderate contamination, and to allow for rapid washing of the person after exposure. When you have people dying from exposure to as much as 16 grays, no thin piece of rubber is going to make much of a difference, and even a lead apron will only go so far.

To be fair, some of the long-term deaths from cancer might have been avoided with better radiation protection, even with the limited technology available at the time, but it would have still been a disaster, and most of the people who died would probably have died anyway. Newer technologies, such as Demron, might have helped, but that wasn't invented until almost 16 years after the Chernobyl disaster.

Re:Chernobyl... (5, Insightful)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092789)

Of course, that is the approach taken by most media these days.

The media in the U.S. provides so little technical detail, it seems useless. How many have reported that all 50 of Japans remaining reactors are currently shut down, or what's gone on towards phasing out reactors in Germany? Shootings, sex scandals, disasters... we get to see that. But where's the depth? How can Democracy function properly if we're not well informed, and half of what we hear is the voice of money talking?

Re:Chernobyl... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092883)

How can Democracy function properly if we're not well informed, and half of what we hear is the voice of money talking?

The same way it functioned 200 years ago. News sources have always been biased and sensationalist, you just have the misfortune of having grown up after the 3 channel "impartial" news era.

To nearly quote Thomas Jefferson: "The man who does not read a newspaper is better informed than one who does. In that being uninformed is closer to the truth than being misinformed." (from memory, so expect a few errors)

Re:Chernobyl... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093009)

And it is on that ideal that Fox News was started.

Re:Chernobyl... (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093841)

You seem to forget NBC and the Zimmerman 911 tape.

Re:Chernobyl... (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092895)

Masses love shootings, sex scandals and disasters. You've got to educate them before you can inform them.

Re:Chernobyl... (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093435)

On the phasing down of German reactors - so far, we only shut down export capacity. Germany had a massive overcapacity of nukes that were actually not needed for local production. We are still not a net importer. That's the interesting fact for me - what exactly did they have to run the rundown Isar I block in my backyard all these years? I have not seen any data on the importers of that energy. How they compensate now, I have no idea. Anyway, in the words of a professor of reactor engineering who gave a talk at a meeting I attended last months - the shutdown will have no significant consequences on the European energy grid. According to current projections, part of it will be replaced by renewables, most of it by natural gas. The climate consequences are another matter, naturally. I'd say we put up all the wind, solar and geothermal we can and get our asses into gear building a new reactor generation that does not suck as much as those currently being shut down. The research money for that, interestingly, is still there and largely unaffected by the shutdown - still way too small, though.

Re:Chernobyl... (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092803)

The slightest mention of that name creates panic. Compare something to it, and you'll get a mass of hysterical people.

Panic = ratings = $$$$ . Media has been dead for years, they are not about honesty or integrity, but about making money.

Re:Chernobyl... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092905)

Yet, unlike Chernobyl, Fukushima is still far from over: http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science-a-environmental/33192-if-fukushima-unit-4-falls-hazardous-radioactive-cesium-137-release-could-be-eight-times-worse-than-chernobyl.html

It still has potential to be worse.

Re:Chernobyl... (4, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093063)

Who said Chernobyl was over? There are still radioactive sheep in the UK for heavens sake!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster_effects#25_years_after_the_catastrophe [wikipedia.org]

Re:Chernobyl... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094529)

Yes, so imagine what 85 times more of Cesium-137 released can do.

Re:Chernobyl... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093109)

The defining word in that headline is "IF"

See the above discussion about sensationalist media.

Re:Chernobyl... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093539)

Yes, and just wait until my latest story is published: "IF Godzilla rises from the radioactive ashes of Fukushima loss of life could be 9 times worse than King Kong!"

Re:Chernobyl... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094837)

Yet, unlike Chernobyl, Fukushima is still far from over

Chernobyl isn't exactly over either - there's still contamination being found in both farm and game animals [wikipedia.org] . They're also building a new shelter [wikipedia.org] over the reactor as the original one is in danger of collapse. Permanent residence is still prohibited [wikipedia.org] near the reactor complex due to contamination.

Re:Chernobyl... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40095181)

You are talking about long time effects, I'm saying that the Fukushima site is still an extreme hazard. There are still fuel rods (especially in unit 4) and when exposed could start a fire that is not possible to put down by water and could release as much as 85 times more Cesium-137 to the air as Chernobyl.

The danger is that those fuel rods are still trapped there and if the base breaks (due to strong earthquake) and water drains all hell is going to happen. Also, unlike Chernobyl Japan constantly has earthquakes, today they had 6.1.

Re:Chernobyl... (0, Flamebait)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093055)

What you do is, you compare it to Chernobyl... then it obviously will never be that bad, so everybody on slashdot can poo poo how only a few people will get cancer. And most will never be able to have concrete proof their screwed up health is related to damage from the accident. And no concrete proof means we should all eat radioactive cereal because it's good for you.

Re:Chernobyl... (0)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 2 years ago | (#40095103)

Yea, comparison with Chernobyl were totally unnecessary. Chernobyl was a limited release from a plant operating a residual power (around 7%). All population was evacuated the next day from aroun d the plant and after one month a full concrete sarcophagus was build to contain any new release.

While in Fukushima... despite all "speedy" wind data information, nobody was evacuated from under the plume. The reactor were at production level power and attempting to scram, damaged already by the quake (who was much lower at the location of the plant than in the ocean and well within the expected norm) the tsunami just ruined any chances of quick cold shutdown. Several days into the crisis nobody knew what to do or what was happening. Briliant propagandist from the governement are still parading saying that stress in more dangerous than cesium137 escaping from the plant. CHILDREN from nearby cities are used to clean up the contaminated soil (because, might as well go FULL RETARD). They now want to incinerate radioactive debris all over japan as sign of solidarity. CHERRY ON THE CAKE the spend fuel pools are still FULL, barely cooled and no longer able to withstand anykind of new earthquake.

So enjoy your "nuclear is cheap and safe" while it last, because 1 year later... nothing is over...

FULL blow by blow account of the event for the last year here on an expat forum:

http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8423 [fuckedgaijin.com]

Like not knowing is better? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092701)

Not being able to say for sure why one has cancer or some birth defects doesn't make it any less sad or less of a burden on families and healthcare.

No doubt many of the cancers we've had in the U.S. that were a result of the nuclear testing era weren't identified either. Maybe the nuclear deterrent saved us, but it wasn't without a price.

Say, why did the head of the NRC resign? Bad choices with Yucca Mountain? A bit slow to deal with some vulnerability? Someone under his desk? Poor health or another personal issue?

Re:Like not knowing is better? (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092925)

That's some tasty FUD right there, yep...

Not being able to say for sure why one has cancer or some birth defects doesn't make it any less sad or less of a burden on families and healthcare.

Neither does knowing for certain. Cancer and birth defects are terrible illnesses, but the radiation levels from Fukushima are so low as to get lost in the background noise of, say, radiation from a nearby kumquat. There's no way to say the cancer was caused by Fukushima, and no way to say it wasn't caused by a nice sunny day.

No doubt many of the cancers we've had in the U.S. that were a result of the nuclear testing era weren't identified either.

Given that cancer cases have been recorded since before any nuclear tests, and all nuclear tests and fallout have been recorded, it's actually possible to figure out the probable death tolls from testing. Spoiler: they're somewhere between "nobody" and "fewer than have died this year from cholera".

Maybe the nuclear deterrent saved us, but it wasn't without a price.

Of course not. The United States dropped a 15-kiloton bomb on Hiroshima, killing 125,000 people. A few days later, a 21-kiloton bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing about 45,000. That's around 170,000 people who died for the "deterrent". Does it really matter that those people died from a nuclear bomb, or would it somehow be better if we'd dropped a ton of regular ol' incendiary bombs, then kept fighting the war for a few more years?

Say, why did the head of the NRC resign? Bad choices with Yucca Mountain? A bit slow to deal with some vulnerability? Someone under his desk? Poor health or another personal issue?

Maybe it was death threats from anti-nuclear Luddites, or, simply exhaustion from the pressure of being a public figure, or annoyance with the continual ignorance of the masses fighting against one of the most promising technologies of the 20th century.

Re:Like not knowing is better? (4, Insightful)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093507)

There's no point in mass fear, the illnesses and deaths are largely spread out over both time and distance and as such pass by mostly without mention. But the deaths are still real.. The people that were alive between 1948 and 1970 (the period of exposure) are/were the primary ones affected. I've known a couple of people that turned out to be from the midwest (one of the harder hit regions from Nevada testing) who had leukemia (they're dead now). Back in the day we didn't know any better. There's a reason we eventually did away with atmospheric testing and have sought to avoid additional contamination.
The incident in Japan has left much of the nation much like the U.S. is, with "background" levels elevated. (The U.S. "background" levels are about double what is seen in someplace like Australia. Except for the area hit in WWII, Japan was mostly low too.) Although a small percentage of the population is affected, the U.S. certainly has/will see some additional cancer cases from Chernobyl, the Japanese accident in 1981 (accident very well covered up, a sodium reactor leaked for months with hundred of workers exposed beyond normal limits, and was measurable in the U.S.) and later from the events of last year. Beware of "science" saying that low level radiation is good. It seems that the people doing those studies have also "shown" that mice do better with low level doses of all sorts of other nasties too. Who would have known how wonderful toxins are? (call it science concocted for defense attorneys) Absorbed like calcium, baby-boomers to this day have strontium-90 in their teeth and bones.

Certainly the risk varied considerable, and like fallout from accidents, the hotspots depended on combinations of timing, the wind, rainfall, and what one ate. For Iodine-131 there have been detailed estimates. If you were a female born in the 50's in someplace like Nebraska, and drank a fair amount of goats milk from animals that were pasture fed, the risk was (and for survivors still is) very significant. Risk was less for those drinking less, it wasn't quite as high with cows, and it was lower from animals fed hay indoors. (A lesson from that is to have a couple of months feed hay in reserve to reduce the exposure via milk during the time it takes for I-131 to go through enough half-lives)

It's only for I-131, and then only for the Nevada tests (other sources not included), but have some fun with the risk calculator if you were around back in the day.

https://ntsi131.nci.nih.gov/ [nih.gov]

The rest can laugh it off I suppose. The Japanese fishermen that can back to Japan with serious radiation exposure from the South Pacific tests did inspire the Godzilla and friends monster movies after all, so something good came of it.

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093649)

Although a small percentage of the population is affected, the U.S. certainly has/will see some additional cancer cases from Chernobyl[...]

Yeah, from the unlucky people who were in Europe at the time. You can't seriously believe that even Chernobyl would cause any significant increase in radiation on the other side of the Atlantic + Europe?

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094361)

Even in Europe, it seems the risk is small. I was in East-Berlin at the time, watching the May 1st parade (study trip). We all got checked at the border when returning 2 days later, but to our dismay none of the classmates were glowing in the dark.

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094549)

But the deaths are still real.. The people that were alive between 1948 and 1970 (the period of exposure) are/were the primary ones affected. I've known a couple of people that turned out to be from the midwest (one of the harder hit regions from Nevada testing) who had leukemia (they're dead now).

You seem to have forgotten to prove that the leukemia deaths you mentioned were caused by any nuclear activity.

I mean, I know people who have died of cancer too. But there's absolutely no evidence that their cancer was caused by nuclear testing, nuclear reactors, nuclear anything....

It's only for I-131, and then only for the Nevada tests (other sources not included), but have some fun with the risk calculator if you were around back in the day.

Fascinating calculator. According to it, I've gotten more radiation from flying around the country than from fallout, in spite of living in the area where such things were meaningful.

Also, my risk of getting thyroid cancer is essentially indistinguishable from that of someone who was never exposed to any fallout...

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093669)

"Spoiler: they're somewhere between "nobody" and "fewer than have died this year from cholera"."

Cholera had 202,407 cases with 5,259 deaths in 2006 alone, so it's a few less? What a relief.
http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/diarrhoeal/en/index3.html [who.int]

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094001)

so it's a few less? What a relief.

Actually, he said "fewer than", not "a few less". They mean different things.

As examples, 5200 is both "fewer than" and "a few less" than 5259. On the other hand, 2 is "fewer than" but NOT "a few less" than 5259.

Re:Like not knowing is better? (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093797)

Of course not. The United States dropped a 15-kiloton bomb on Hiroshima, killing 125,000 people. A few days later, a 21-kiloton bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing about 45,000. That's around 170,000 people who died for the "deterrent". Does it really matter that those people died from a nuclear bomb, or would it somehow be better if we'd dropped a ton of regular ol' incendiary bombs, then kept fighting the war for a few more years?

No, if we'd firebombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we'd probably have killed a lot more people than were killed by the nuclear blasts - hills can protect you from a nuke blast if you're in their shadow, but not so much if you're being chased by a firestorm.

Note that Tokyo suffered a million-plus casualties from a couple-three firebombings...

Re:Like not knowing is better? (2)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094871)

Cancer and birth defects are terrible illnesses, but the radiation levels from Fukushima are so low as to get lost in the background noise of, say, radiation from a nearby kumquat.

Do kumquat trees draw cesium or some other isotope from the soil like sunflowers do? Sunflower seeds often show radiation. They were even testing them in Japan as a possible measure to help clean the soil, but from what I read they didn't remove enough to be useful, and the plants themselves needed special disposal afterwards.

The U.S. levels in the air were low, yes (expect very few cases of lung cancer from that compared to other sources such as decaying radon coming from our soil, building materials, and in water supplies - especially in Texas), but there were much higher concentrations seen in some rainfall. Although not reported on the EPA site, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo had both Iodine-131 and Cesium 134/137 showing up in the milk from the university dairy unit pasture-fed cows. Some places in the U.S. had rainfall testing 1000 times the FDA allowable limit for drinking water. Even the Cal Poly milk was above the amount allowed in drinking water. At least I-131 doesn't last long. They quit showing test results for S.L.O. milk, so it isn't apparent just how much of the cesium present had been directly deposited on the grass the cows ate versus how much was absorbed through the soil. The amounts are not huge, but whatever is left in the soil is going to be there for decades. Average figures tend to hide the fact that there are hot spots, some seen even on the east coast. Most of the radiation that caused cancer in Sweden from Chernobyl is believed to have been the result of what was in rainfall on a particular day.

If you look at cancer reporting in California tabulated over the years and broken out by group, there are a couple of cancers rising significantly particularly in women, and the curves are getting steeper. Yes, the total percentage of the population affected is small, but people are being affected. (The timing of the rises would correlate with Chernobyl as the cause). The fact that there is some radiation from the soil and space (even brief spikes during solar flares), doesn't make radiation any more desirable.

I actually thought the head of the NRC, Chairman Gregory Jaczko, had recently done a reasonable job, but I'd like to know more. Not everyone that has concerns about nuclear power or feels that low-level radiation is still worth minimizing is anti-nuclear. Don't discredit citizens with legitimate concerns, throwing out utter nonsense about threats. Talk about pure FUD...

Republican Congressman Lee Terry of Nebraska had a few things to say, but was exceptionally vague. It's hard to trust much during an election year, especially attacks, but the fact that Jaczko resigned seems to validate that there was an issue. It seems to be a combination of management style and selectively withholding information to get his way. We should demand transparency, even if some of the details require educating people to keep the public calm. He does deserve credit for the U.S. being more on target than what Japanese officials were saying as to the (greater) area that was a high risk place to be. A campaign of lies, denying the consequences of releases, seems a big mistake to me. Only through honestly facing important issues can we hope to effectively manage them.

http://leeterry.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1712 [house.gov]
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2115375,00.html [time.com]

Re:Like not knowing is better? (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094901)

Maybe it was death threats from anti-nuclear Luddites, or, simply exhaustion from the pressure of being a public figure, or annoyance with the continual ignorance of the masses fighting against one of the most promising technologies of the 20th century.

Thank you for saying this. I've been trying to get this point across to people until I'm blue in the face.

Fact: More people die due to coal and oil powered plants than nuclear ones. In fact, it's about 915 times more dangerous than nuclear power, even accounting for their respective percentages of world power. In actuality, it's 161 deaths per TWH for coal, and 0.04 for nuclear. Not to mention the pollutants that don't kill human beings, but hurt

Fact: One day the coal and oil are going to run out.

So what else are we going to use? Nothing touches nuclear power in terms of efficiency, cleanliness, and viability right now, yet this whole Fukishima disaster (note that it was caused by an record-setting earthquake, and a tsunami which exceeded the safety precautions in place. Still, none by radiation [huffingtonpost.com] which is the only "scary" aspect of nuclear power, really. Power plants can't explode. And we have learned a LOT since Chernobyl. Just look at Fukishima. After all was said & done, it wasn't that bad as far as the power plants reactors' are concerned.

Radiation is fear-mongered to death, demonized by the fossil fuel industry, and better for all of us than it.

Spock is OK? (3, Funny)

MikeMacK (788889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092707)

Jim, I think you'd better get down here.... Better hurry...

one in every crowd (4, Insightful)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092735)

Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the radioisotope centre at the University of Tokyo and an outspoken critic of the government, questions the reports’ value. “I think international organizations should stop making hasty reports based on very short visits to Japan that don’t allow them to see what is happening locally,” he says.

Re:one in every crowd (1, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092847)

What're they supposed to do? Stay there for 20+ years, asking every person every day: "How do you feel? Got any tumors? I know a guy who'll scoop them out if you agree to be a lab rat. Call this number, ask for Cave, and tell him Bill sent you."

Re:one in every crowd (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092891)

This is really really bad. Anyone who has been reading or watching Arnie Gundersen (fairewinds.com) would likely come to the same conclusion.
1. do not eat seafood
2. the soil in Tokyo would be considered toxic waste in the US.
3. if there is large aftershock near unit 4. An extinction event is a possibility.

Re:one in every crowd (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093257)

Arnie Gundersen

I wikipedia'd him and it reads as very PR crankish.

Wiki informed me his most famous scaremongering PR campaigns have revolved around these three "discoveries" passed off as engineering insights we should be terrified of:

1) If the process of rusting a hole in something happens, then, there exists a hole in it and holes are bad.
2) If one liquid leaks out of a hole, then, in theory, another liquid could leak out of a hole, even if only the first previously mentioned liquid has ever leaked out of the hole.
3) If one complicated machine broke down in a complicated way, then, in theory, a different complicated machine could break down in a different complicated way.

I'm not a nukeEng but just using my low cunning and gut instincts as a /.er, but I think those are known problems with known solutions and his primary contribution to the debate Might be fearmongering and making money via PR mostly using his ancient credentials as an "appeal to authority" disinfo campaign.

I'm not feeling the education here. Now to be fair it Might be that the wiki article is awful, and the guy is actually producing insightful work and new results. But, probably not.

Re:one in every crowd (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093675)

An extinction event is a possibility.

Care to qualify that? It's always a possibility. There might be a rock the size of Australia screaming towards us at near-cas I type this.

I'm having trouble believing anything they say now (4, Insightful)

random coward (527722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092839)

After all the lies during the events I have serious doubts about anything coming from official sources there. Its like listing to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf [wikipedia.org] and thinking "oh yes he has to be telling the truth this time".


"There is little health risks from the Fukashima reactor anamoly" [bbc.co.uk]


This is really disgusting because it damages the viability of nuclear power, and that is a resource we should be expanding and modernizing and not getting rid of.

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (2)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092913)

I am too. There was a lot of radiation released by Fukushima. Don't tell everyone to panic but don't lie and, in effect, tell everyone they are going to be okay either. It is a known fact that gamma radiation destroys DNA. I think one can link some cancers to gamma ray exposure.

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093149)

There was a lot of radiation released by Fukushima.

There was. The vast majority of it vanished over the past year as the iodine decayed. The majority of the remainder is now washed out to sea and will likely be indistinguishable from the normal radioisotope content of the ocean as is.

Don't tell everyone to panic but don't lie and, in effect, tell everyone they are going to be okay either.

So they'll need to do some cleanup and keep an eye on things with their doctor. It's not like everyone will have some hideous cancer as a direct result of this. Get back to me in a couple decades when rates of incidence are trackable and we can see what happened, when, and to who.

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093303)

true but if the majority of radiation was alpha it is easily blocked unless ingested.

Since what got carried away in the explosions and water was alpha and beta, The danger is less. most of that has become heavily diluted in the ocean.

Radiation has many different effects depending on type. a high dose of one has a different short term, and then long term effect.

Gamma goes through everything but doesn't stick around as much.
Alpha can stick around in an environment for decades continuously poisoning and re-poisoning those who come in contact with it.

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093513)

Gamma goes through everything but doesn't stick around as much.
Alpha can stick around in an environment for decades continuously poisoning and re-poisoning those who come in contact with it.

Gamma rays go through everything, but doesn't stick around at all.

Alpha particles are helium ions, and are neither poisonous nor particularly prone to sticking around.

That said...

Gamma EMITTERS can be in the environment for extended periods, based entirely on their half-life (long half-life means the emitters are around for a long time, short halflife rather the reverse).

Alpha EMITTERS can be in the environment for extended periods, based entirely on their half-life (same parenthetical comment).

And THAT said...

Gamma emitters are moderately dangerous, but alpha emitters can safely be stored under your bed (an alpha emitter wrapped in yesterday's newspaper is pretty much safe, since an alpha particle won't penetrate a single sheet of paper).

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094743)

"...a lot of radiation released by Fukushima." [nitpick: radioactivity would be a better term than radiation]

"A lot" is not a useful description. No, really. I don't just mean you need a number. I mean a lot of mercury is released into the environment too.
And there is a lot of gold in the ocean. So what?
There are many variables your blanket statement does not begin to address.

Over what time period?
In what physical and chemical form?
With what half-lives?
Into what medium?
Over how large an area?
How does it diffuse/propagate?
Who was exposed?
How does it compare to the radiation already present?
etc.
etc.

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (3, Interesting)

geekymachoman (1261484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092965)

Yeah, it's modern times. Anyway... when I read news I try to get both alternative and mainstream sources covered. I reckon, as the quote goes... truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Having said that, I read a lot recently about fukushima reactor #4. Here's a snippet:

[quote]
The troubled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is at the centre of this potential catastrophe.

Reactor 4 -- and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 -- still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements.

A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.

The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.

The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.
[/quote]

So what happened until now I guess shouldn't be the focus of media attention, but rather how to deal with reactor #4 - of course, if these statements are true.
Here's url to the full article:
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20120518/fukushima-dai-ichi-risk-reactor-4-120519/ [www.ctv.ca]

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093663)

Looking at "Fairewinds Energy Education" website, it doesn't look like anything other than an anti-nuke shill, producing reports on demand for the anti-nuke hysterics...

Re:I'm having trouble believing anything they say (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093377)

Do you have anything conclusive that proves official sources (i.e. the IAEA and NISA) have reported anything incorrectly (or without later publishing the correction)? Media reporting inside of and outside of Japan swung wildly between "everything is fine" and "next Chernobyl?!?!?" with dizzying rapidity and little provocation. And I mean 'proof' other than dodgy blogs citing the-Geiger-counter-I-built-myself-but-never-had-calibrated.

I'd take that with a truckload of salt (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092867)

There's been so much lying going on about the whole incident that I just can't believe anything being said about it anymore. If I lived anywhere close to it I'd demand a real investigation, not the usual "foreign 'experts' come, do a tour about the Tokio night clubs and write what they're supposed to" kind.

Re:I'd take that with a truckload of salt (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092979)

"Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the radioisotope centre at the University of Tokyo and an outspoken critic of the government, questions the reports’ value. “I think international organizations should stop making hasty reports based on very short visits to Japan that don’t allow them to see what is happening locally,” he says."

Agree.

Re:I'd take that with a truckload of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093097)

truckload of *Iodized* salt.

This is clearly propaganda, thinly disguised and designed for the crowd who gets their news from late-night TV talk-show hosts.

Re:I'd take that with a truckload of salt (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093403)

As opposed to the environmentalist wackos who show up to find and publicize a nuclear disaster, whether it actually exists or not.

Spent fuel pools still a risk (2, Informative)

bhlowe (1803290) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092897)

"Mainchi reported on Monday: The storage pool in the No. 4 reactor building has a total of 1,535 fuel rods, or 460 tons of nuclear fuel, in it. The 7-story building itself has suffered great damage, with the storage pool barely intact on the building’s third and fourth floors. The roof has been blown away. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode, causing a massive amount of radioactive substances to spread over a wide area. Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned about this risk."

Re:Spent fuel pools still a risk (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093107)

GJ with no links there bub. Mind following up with some?

Re:Spent fuel pools still a risk (2)

bhlowe (1803290) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093261)

Here is one link [washingtonsblog.com] .

Re:Spent fuel pools still a risk (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093365)

The roof has been blown away. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode

Those two lines don't go together logically. They got savaged because they were not ventilating the overheating pools and reactors, so H2 built up and popped each building like popcorn. There were zerohedge guys (yeah... but where else do we have free media, anyway?) crying to crack the other buildings before they explode, but no, they just kept popping. If they had popped a hole in undamaged roofs, they would not have been able to accumulate H2, leading to an inability to blow up. Management paralysis. Then again conditions were pretty bad... USA people forget than the wave killed a zillion people right there around the plant.

Intentionally blowing a hole in the ceiling is admitting defeat, making it look bad, losing face, whatever. Yet not doing it seemingly inevitably led to explosions blowing the roof off. No more roof means no more H2 means no more explosions.

The other problem is you can run off the shelf H2 combiners given a little electricity and stuff... which they didn't have. I assume they've booted those dudes back up. So you need a total, long term coolant failure, AND the roof needs to be rebuilt airtight, AND the H2 recombiners all have to fail ... all three issues at once, any two won't work. Seems unlikely.

Re:Spent fuel pools still a risk (2)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093455)

This is total nonsense. While overheating and fire is a risk with fuel freshly removed from an operating reactor--after it has been sitting this long, nothing catastrophic will happen. The fuel rods will get a bit hotter than usual, though nothing will burn.

That said, fuel should be moved to dry cask storage or further reprocessed in a timely manner. Stockpiling huge quantities of spent fuel in pools is not a good idea, as every time you add hot fuel, that does introduce a window of danger for about six months. Outside of that window though, the pools could be drained without consequence.

Hello, credibility? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40092945)

Japanese officials have been lying through their Orwellian teeth since day one. When I see these guys pulling some stunts like guzzling a pint of well water, having their kids play in the local playground, and building sandcastles on the beach I'll believe them.

Ditto For The B.P. Gulf Oil Spill ( +4, Helpful ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40092989)

Don't worry, be happy.

  Yours In Novosibirsk,
    K. Trout, C.T.O.

Re:Ditto For The B.P. Gulf Oil Spill ( +4, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093755)

More like ( -20 Stupid )

Because Cs137 is showing up in Vermont milk? (0)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093001)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/04/09/radiation-detected-in-drinking-water-in-13-more-us-cities-cesium-137-in-vermont-milk/ [forbes.com]

4/11 - Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in American milk—in Montpelier, Vermont—for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency

Re:Because Cs137 is showing up in Vermont milk? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093073)

1. That article is over a year old, rendering any discussion about Iodine moot.
2. Even a year ago, the levels were well below EPA standards.
3. Do they even do regular testing of milk in Vermont for radiation?

Please, if you're going try and make a point then you should try to be a little less "chicken little" about it.

Re:Because Cs137 is showing up in Vermont milk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093717)

"3. Do they even do regular testing of milk in Vermont for radiation?"

Each time the cows glow in the dark.

Re:Because Cs137 is showing up in Vermont milk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093199)

...released by the EPA

Leftie tree-huggers. You might as well ask Greenpeace. Everyone knows the EPA are biased towards valuing the environment more than profits so anything they say is suspect.

Ostriches (1)

sarku (2047704) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093005)

http://enenews.com/former-fukushima-daiichi-worker-i-believe-the-country-will-be-evacuated-if-the-no-4-spent-fuel-pool-collapses-should-be-hundreds-or-thousands-of-people-working-furiously-every-day [enenews.com]

It blows my mind how many "scientifically" minded people there are on Slashdot, and yet, so many people who are scared to think outside of the box. I guess that's the problem with overspecialization.

XKCD (3, Informative)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093069)

...already covered this [xkcd.com]

Nice to see others have finally figured the same thing out.

When paradigms collide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093101)

I love it when typical Slashdot truisms come into conflict.

1. Government is always evil or incompetent. They can do nothing right.

2. Private institutions and rightwing think-tanks are always correct and inherently morally superior to any public institution.

3. Nuclear power is inherently good and superior to all other forms of power production. Anyone saying differently is a luddite.

4. THORIUM!!!!!!

5. Ron Paul is 100% correct on every issue

6. Labor unions serve no other purpose than to protect the lazy and incompetent

7. Public schools suck and private schools are fantastic. See 1 and 2.

8. China does nothing but pirate and steal. There has never been an original thought from anyone east of South Korea.

Is it at all possible to accept the -possibility- that the world is slightly more complex than such trite paradigms?

Re:When paradigms collide (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093289)

That's not really Slashdot truisms, just libertarian truisms (save 3 and 4, perhaps).

Re:When paradigms collide (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093889)

8. China does nothing but pirate and steal. There has never been an original thought from anyone east of South Korea.

Too funny!

You're obviously unaware that South Korea is WEST of the USA and EAST of China.

So "anyone east of South Korea" includes the USA, but not China, making your point self-contradictory....

Is it at all possible to accept the -possibility- that the world is slightly more complex than such trite paradigms?

Yes. It's also possible to decide that someone who is unaware that the USA is EAST of Korea isn't worth listening to when it comes to discussing complex issues...

4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer! (4, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093111)

Just as everywhere else in the developed world. (Although actual figures in US states vary between 35% and 53% of people getting cancer - no evacuations so far, despite hugely increased risk in some states.)

Re:4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093421)

You know this? Pray tell, how have you come to this conclusion when any rational person would at least desire some evidene? Were there burning bushes involved or did you simple determine it because nuclear power is, after all, made of rainbows and the laughter of children.

While you're at it, you might want to look up the differences in total dosage received when standing miles away from a radiation source as opposed to INGESTING the damn source like some people will have done.

Re:4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093443)

Publicly available data.

Re:4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093555)

"I dunno. I read it on the internet somewhere... I think... can't remember... Google it. Shit gotta run"

Re:4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093583)

Is it really so hard to figure out that you could just search for "us states cancer data"?

Re:4 out of 10 people in Fukushima will get cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093775)

I'd point you in the direction of Euradcom which has actual data on this but you'd just sweep it away as EU commie pinko luddite arguments.

I truly hope you get to live in the world you desire and that I'm long dead by then. A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell.

At Chernobyl, they saw some damn cool shit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093155)

At Chernobyl, by contrast, the highest exposed workers died quickly from radiation sickness.

Yes, but if I ever get a terminal illness and decide it's not worth living, I hope* they have a time machine so I can off myself by visiting it. Those highest exposed workers opened an access door to where the control rod manual controls used to be and stared right down into the burning core; others stepped outside and saw a shaft of air ionized by the escaping radiation piercing the night sky -- stuff very few people have ever seen.

So, since nobody saw any phenomena the slightest bit unusual at Fukushima Dai-ichi, maybe there's no point with these endless comparisons to Chernoby?

*"hope" in this context is not to be confused with "believe there is any chance at all of" -- I don't expect time travel of any sort ever to times before the construction of the time machine, and I've no reason to suspect it's definitely possible with that limit, or if it is, that the physics breakthrough would occur any time soon.

"Safe" Levels? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093241)

I wonder who's "safe" exposure levels they're using. If they're using the US NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) numbers they should probably halve them. I think the NRC's numbers have been proven to be a little more than optimistic.

Does this include Reactor 4 collapse scenarios? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40093243)

http://thecanadian.org/item/1499-fukushima-reactor-4-most-important-story-nobody-talking-about-japan-nuclear-tsunami-gillis

Not really a fair comparison (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093277)

Chernobyl is not exactly a fair comparison. That was a massive release with so much radiation in some places you could actually taste it.

Like it or not, Fukushima actually demonstrated that in an absolutely worst case nightmare scenario the releases would not be that bad.

What I think is funny are the people who worry about getting cancer from the minuscule, barely measurable radiation drifting in weather patterns and then sit down to a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Processed meats have a much better statistical correlation for cancer than micro levels of radioactive isotopes, some of which occur naturally.

I know, I know. I'm going to burn in hell now for ripping on bacon.

Re:Not really a fair comparison (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093575)

What I think is funny are the people who worry about getting cancer from the minuscule, barely measurable radiation drifting in weather patterns and then sit down to a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

Not to mention set up such a racket about running a nuclear plant while ignoring the coal plant down the road that's giving everybody a chance at lung cancer halfway towards being a smoker.

Lawsuit time. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093601)

If this had happened in the US how long would it have been before we'd have seen lawyers on TV advertising legal action? I'm sure findings from independent agencies would have been completely irrelevant to the case.

Malarkey (1)

REALMAN (218538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40093961)

They said the same thing after Chernobyl. Is anyone buying it this time?

Good News Everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40094107)

Most people will be fine. Not too many will suffer.

The few that do suffer are highly unlikely to be able to prove that Fukushima Daiichi is specifically responsible, so we won't lose the law suits.

Good news everyone!

Who Wants to be the Statistic? (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094449)

Unless, you are working there or eating the local food or water, the risks from Fukushima are small, BUT....
Who wants leukemia or thyroid cancer?

Say the risks are 1:100,000, then 37 people will get cancer in LA, alone.
Although the odds are quite low, someone will be the statistic, and it will never be blamed on the source because that is how money works.

TEPCO estimate sees more radiation than NISA's (1)

surveyork (1505897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40094889)

"Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated the total amount of radioactive substances discharged from its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant measured 760,000 terabecquerels, 1.6 times the estimate released by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in February. "
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120523005514.htm
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