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The Panic Over Fukushima

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the people-enjoy-being-scared-more-than-they-enjoy-math dept.

Japan 536

An anonymous reader points out an article in the Wall Street Journal about how irrational fear of nuclear reactors made people worry much more about last year's incident at Fukushima than they should have. Quoting: "Denver has particularly high natural radioactivity. It comes primarily from radioactive radon gas, emitted from tiny concentrations of uranium found in local granite. If you live there, you get, on average, an extra dose of .3 rem of radiation per year (on top of the .62 rem that the average American absorbs annually from various sources). A rem is the unit of measure used to gauge radiation damage to human tissue. ... Now consider the most famous victim of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Two workers at the reactor were killed by the tsunami, which is believed to have been 50 feet high at the site. But over the following weeks and months, the fear grew that the ultimate victims of this damaged nuke would number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The 'hot spots' in Japan that frightened many people showed radiation at the level of .1 rem, a number quite small compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver. What explains the disparity? Why this enormous difference in what is considered an acceptable level of exposure to radiation?"

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536 comments

Red Heading (3, Funny)

stephenmac7 (2700151) | about 2 years ago | (#41039711)

Off topic but: What's with the red heading?

Re:Red Heading (4, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41039749)

they are red when they are freshly posted

Re:Red Heading (2)

SuperSlacker64 (1918650) | about 2 years ago | (#41039757)

The red heading means you're a logged in user with enough karma to get a preview of the story before it goes live for everyone. I've seen it a few times, but it usually doesn't take long before its public and open (typically by the time I've refreshed the page).

Re:Red Heading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039881)

Has nothing to do with being logged in. I've seen the red headings several times, and I've never had an account here.

Re:Red Heading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040169)

It's that time of the month.

Right...just change the "acceptable level"! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039741)

The governments around the world have a great way of dealing with "dangerous levels" of radiation...just increase the "safe level"...and presto - you no longer have "dangerous levels." This has been done in MANY places!

Re:Right...just change the "acceptable level"! (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41040045)

Mostly when they discovered to their embarrassment that the nearly arbitrary number they picked was less than the natural background and so wasn't attainable.

Re:Right...just change the "acceptable level"! (4, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 2 years ago | (#41040349)

I am not an expert, but I think you can not compare radiation that easily. It really depends on how you come into contact with the radiation, and where it is stored. For example, eating fish from effected may be more serious than just breathing air -- with the same measured radiation content. I think people at least on Slashdot where well-aware of how to compare Sieverts (or rem) from https://xkcd.com/radiation/ [xkcd.com]

We know Fukushima expelled a third of the radiation of Chernobyl, we know how widespread the mutations are there (people still can't live there), we know Japan is not exactly underpopulated and predominantly fish-eating. That can be a serious concern, especially if you at some point lived in the parts of Europe where radiation from Chernobyl rained down and still today you can't eat mushrooms for example, because they are too poisonous (>1000km away, 25 years later).

I'm still blown away (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41039747)

Not by the Fukushima thing - but by the fact that the tsunami was 50 feet high at the plant. I understand how it can happen; but that is truly awesome (in the literal sense of the word).

Re:I'm still blown away (5, Informative)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#41039939)

If that is awesome, what is this [geology.com] ?

Re:I'm still blown away (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41039971)

Apocalyptic?

Re:I'm still blown away (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41040287)

That is amazingly cool - but it wasn't an open-ocean tsunami.

Re:I'm still blown away (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41039959)

That's quite understandable, a 50 feet high tsunami would blow away just about anyone.

Re:I'm still blown away (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#41040253)

There's a cool video on youtube of somebody standing on a building & videoing the whole thing. The tsunami didn't come as a massive wave, but as gradual rising of the water over 5 minutes time. In the video the water submerged the first two floors of a nearby building (and flooded the third). So that's what? 25 feet?

Why? This: (-1, Flamebait)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 2 years ago | (#41039783)

Re:Why? This: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039867)

Oh no, a few thousand square miles where nobody will get hurt by it has a few extra millirem!!111!1one!!!!!

Re:Why? This: (4, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#41039875)

That map would be useful if there were any units or legend presented to demonstrate what kinda scale the heatmap is attempting to display. Without knowing this, the map is good for nothing more than to scare people.

Re:Why? This: (5, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#41040153)

Which is exactly why it was created without a scale.

Re:Why? This: (2)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41040237)

>naturalnews

These are the same people who spread anti-vaccine propaganda and all sorts of nonsense. It's ad-hominem, but to say that they are not reliable is putting it mildly.

>no scale on map

Well that's useful.

--
BMO

easy to say when your half a world away (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039789)

Tell you what, WSt dudes, buy that lsnd off the indiginents. Go live there. You can telecommute.

It's all rather amusing from a country that goes completely apeshit whenever the thought of a trrrist being alive somewhere occurrs to them.

Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039795)

These people are obviously the progeny of survivors from those atomic bombs a few years back. They survived because of natural resistance, and now so do their offsprings, and offsprings offspring etc...

Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (4, Insightful)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 2 years ago | (#41039803)

Radiation in Denver is unavoidable. Radiation in Fukushima was manmade, and the inadequate safety features and inept management seem to be common problems with nuclear (and other) power plants. The furor is because the Fukushima radiation release could have been avoided, but wasn't.

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (3, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 2 years ago | (#41039905)

That serves as a good thing to keep in mind moving forward, but the article is about the (now unavoidable) radiation level in the area. The "hot spots" are 1/3 the radiation level that your average Denver resident experiences. The point is that people should stop going into hysterics about the radiation, not that they should ignore the lessons learned by the reactor failure.

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (4, Funny)

asicsolutions (1481269) | about 2 years ago | (#41039929)

I've avoided it my entire life here in New Hampshire.

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040329)

Radon

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039943)

Radiation in Denver IS avoidable. It's called "moving." Surely you've heard of it?

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (5, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 2 years ago | (#41039983)

Radiation in Fukushima was manmade, and the inadequate safety features and inept management seem to be common problems with nuclear (and other) power plants.

Yeah, for definitions of "common" of perhaps one in a thousand.

Of course, coal plants kill people when working as intended, but it doesn't look scary on CNN, so nobody cares.

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040083)

It's worse than that. Coal plants on average emit more radiation per kWh than nuclear plants. Including all the disasters of the past few decades.

People suck at dealing with low probabilities of very high magnitude. Which is why we're so scared of terrorists we can't leave our homes...except to get in a two ton killing machine to which tens of thousands die per year in the US alone.

Re:Radiation in Denver is unavoidable (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039991)

Radiation in Denver is unavoidable. Radiation in Fukushima was manmade.

And everybody knows that natural radiation is good for you, while manmade radiation is bad... wait what?

Ignorance is king (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039805)

Ignorance and then fear of unknown is what is driving this. People think about "radiation" and their eyes glaze over. And it is not even regular people - scientists do it too!

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/08/17/radon-lung-cancer-risk.html [www.cbc.ca]

What do they know? They know that there is a little bit more radon than they thought.

Their conclusions? FUD! Death!

They made up a non-threshold model for radiation based on WWII nuclear bombings, and they they keep applying it everywhere like if it applies to low level radiation levels. Anyone with any clue, knows that it does not work this way. But then when does reality stop a widespread belief??

Heck, no one even did much work on low level radiation and their effects on living beings. For that they would need a nil-radiation environment to do experiments and no one cares enough to fund that yet.

So no, I'm not surprised that there is a lot of FUD about Fukushima. And I'm not even surprised at the radon-linked-paper-deaths either.

Re:Ignorance is king (-1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 2 years ago | (#41040059)

Parent post is contributing to the FUD it protests against, just as TFA does.

Environmental radiation from uranium in the Denver area granite is no big deal, because the uranium stays locked up in the granite.

A lot of the radioactive crud released by Fuckunmeboth is from very biological active elements. Stuff that collects in your blood and in your bones, and irradiates you from the inside. Unless you do not mind the possibility of your life ending in the prolonged messiness of cancer, etc, then this stuff is something to be fearful about. Especially for those of us who eat near the top of the food chain-- you know, like tuna and beef, rather than subsisting on just the yeastie beasties in the beer.

Re:Ignorance is king (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#41040141)

I guess you never heard of radon gas.

Re:Ignorance is king (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040311)

Parent post is contributing to the FUD it protests against, just as TFA does.

Environmental radiation from uranium in the Denver area granite is no big deal, because the uranium stays locked up in the granite. ...

I snipped the garbage part of your post. To the other part, the "extra" radiation exposure is due to radon gas.

Re:Ignorance is king (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040099)

It would help if the apologists got their science together. What do you get from this, for example: "an extra dose of .3 rem of radiation per year" on one hand an "radiation at the level of .1 rem" on the other hand? One or the other can't be correct. Either rem is a unit of accumulated dose or a unit of dose per time, but not both (it's the former). If a hotspot delivers 0.1 rem per day, that should worry you (because that's 100 rem, or 1 Sv, in about 30 years, which carries a 5.5% chance of developing radiation induced cancer). If a hotspot delivers 0.1 rem per year, that's not very much. So these things matter, but once again, there's no reliable information from the people who have vested interests in the success of nuclear energy - even if that vested interest is just to avoid the cognitive dissonance of seeing that a technology which they've always portrayed as safe and manageable turns out to present us with design exceeding accidents in not quite as long intervals as have been predicted.

The people who tell us that it's all really not that bad and not even worse than natural sources of radiation should put their hide where their mouth is and move there.

Re:Ignorance is king (1)

eric_herm (1231134) | about 2 years ago | (#41040175)

So you would believe them based on where they live and not what they say ( ie, the messager is more inmportant than the message ? )

Because science is boring (2)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41039809)

The news channels can't educate people on what a rem is, or why its important, in under 30 seconds, and nobody knows that from school anymore, so the news spin cycle is forced to sensationalize.

Re:Because science is boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039937)

The news channels can't educate people on what a rem is, or why its important, in under 30 seconds, and nobody knows that from school anymore, so the news spin cycle is forced to sensationalize.

Maybe.

Or the people in the country that this took place had something in their history - along with dreadful images and stories from their grandparents and parents - that makes quite sensitive to radiation exposure.

If you had to see a loved one melt in front of your eyes, perhaps one would have an emotional reaction that trumps a rational one.

It was unfortunate but the more I read and learn about the Japanese in WWII, those atomic attacks were absolutely necessary as far as I can tell.

Re:Because science is boring (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41040027)

Nonsense. The news channels could easily explain it in thirty seconds. Something like:

"Radioactive exposure is measured in rems. The average American is exposed to 0.6 rems a year. People around Fukushima will be exposed to an extra 0.1 rems, which won't hurt them at all. Now, back to our coverage of the entire villages that were swept away by the actual disaster."

They choose to sensationalize and fan the fires of ignorance because it makes for more exciting news, which gets them better ratings, which gets them more money. Simple as that.

Re:Because science is boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040037)

But wait, there's more. :) This bloke has got the steak knives. It's science and it's not boring. It's damning!

Apocolypse: NOT!

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/all

Re:Because science is boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040139)

I agree that's a problem, but even when people understand a danger, they have a natural difficulty evaluating a statistical risk. Even if the lifetime cancer risk percentages are comparable, a radioactive release from a nuclear reactor will aways feel like a specversus the cancer risks from granite bedrock or dental x-rays or airline flights or coal power plant exhaust. As a consequence, even if it's the best course of action statistically, doing nothing will always feel like "AND THEY DID NOTHING" in the eyes of the general public.

Wrong scare (4, Interesting)

pe1rxq (141710) | about 2 years ago | (#41039817)

Fukushima wasn't scary because of what happened. It was scary because one of the most developped countries in the world had absolutly no control over what happened.
Untill now everybody was reassured that these things only happened to old sovjet reactors.
Fukushima learnt the ignorant masses that when nuclear shit hits the fan it doesn't matter much which country the fan is located in.

Re:Wrong scare (2, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41039869)

I think it makes a rather huge difference. Things went far worse at Fukushima than they did at Chernobyl. However the government was able to evacuate effectively, maintain health levels, control the situation.... I'd say the lessen is more or less the opposite.

Re:Wrong scare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039903)

Define "worse." Because, and correct me if I'm wrong here, Chernobyl is still a disaster area, NEARLY THIRTY YEARS LATER.

Fukushima will be back to normal in a couple years and we'll forget all about it.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41040115)

Define "worse." Because, and correct me if I'm wrong here, Chernobyl is still a disaster area, NEARLY THIRTY YEARS LATER.

Fukushima will be back to normal in a couple years and we'll forget all about it.

Really? You have an rather expansive [en.rian.ru] definition of normal.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41040199)

Define worse. The loss of control of the fissionable material and things like power failures and flooding at the time they were working to get them under control.

What happened after is proof of my point above.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#41039911)

Things went far worse at Fukushima than they did at Chernobyl.

They did? The reactor cores at Fukushima exploded? The live fuel was exposed directly to the atmosphere and started burning?

Re:Wrong scare (1)

ModelX (182441) | about 2 years ago | (#41040089)

According to NRC transcripts there were fires in several fuel pools which were exposed to the atmosphere (the roofs were blown away by explosions). Many people believe the hydrogen was not enough to cause the mess at #3 so until the Japanese show the lid of #3 reactor an impartial observer cannot exclude the possibility of reactor itself blowing sky high.

Re:Wrong scare (2)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#41040209)

Link to the NRC transcripts. And "many people" is not exactly a reliable source.

until the Japanese show the lid of #3 reactor an impartial observer cannot exclude the possibility of reactor itself blowing sky high.

If the reactor core had exploded there would be no way in hell for them to hide it. Impartial observers would exclude it by the fact that there were no radiation readings anywhere near intense enough to indicate that as a possibility. On the other hand, anti-nuke fearmongers would suggest this to be a possibility and prey on people's ignorance.

Re:Wrong scare (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41040095)

I think the GP's point is that the Fukushima plants were exposed to far worse conditions than the Chernobyl plant, and yet emerged much better, thus proving the efficacy of the safety devices and procedures in place.

For the requisite car analogy: Fukushima is a modern sedan in a head-on collision, from which the driver walks away. Chernobyl is a Pinto getting into a fender bender and exploding.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41040215)

Exactly! Thank you.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41040229)

No they didn't. The Japanese handled a worse objective situation. On the other hand, yes the fuel was exposed.

Re:Wrong scare (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41040101)

Maybe we're not talking about the same Fukashima but I distinctly recall pretty much total confusion and paralysis by the Japanese government and TEPCO. It was clear they did not have a good handle on the situation. They clearly lied, obfuscated and just refused to talk at times.

THAT is what was so scary. Nobody believed what the government was saying. It was extraordinarily hard to figure out exactly what was going on. Waving Geiger counters around isn't the best way to determine health risks but that is exactly what the general public was forced to do given the poor official response. This went on for months. So, I'm supposed to believe them now?

Note the similarities between Chernoble and Fukashima. Both governments caught unawares. Both governments go into minimize mode. The real situation turns out to be, in fact, pretty bad. People distrust official statements, get upset, get hyperbolic, perhaps panic.

SNAFU....

Re:Wrong scare (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 years ago | (#41040275)

Maybe we're not talking about the same Fukashima but I distinctly recall pretty much total confusion and paralysis by the Japanese government and TEPCO.

When exactly was this paralysis? Though out the whole thing the Japanese government and TEPCO were managing the reactor everyday. There was a lot of time they didn't know about what was happening exactly or how to handle it. But more or less they had very effective teams working through how to handle a truly tragic situation effectively. This was the first time humanity ever faced this situation and they did rather well, for a first time.

It was clear they did not have a good handle on the situation.

They had as good a handle as could be expected on a situation that no one had ever encountered before where the monitoring and safety systems failed.

They clearly lied, obfuscated and just refused to talk at times.

People wanted more definite answers than they had.

THAT is what was so scary. Nobody believed what the government was saying. It was extraordinarily hard to figure out exactly what was going on. Waving Geiger counters around isn't the best way to determine health risks but that is exactly what the general public was forced to do given the poor official response. This went on for months. So, I'm supposed to believe them now?

Why not? In retrospect I think they were mostly as honest as they could be. A bit overly optimistic and a bit concerned in trying to reduce panic. But I don't see widespread deception. And the panic is over.

Note the similarities between Chernoble and Fukashima. Both governments caught unawares. Both governments go into minimize mode. The real situation turns out to be, in fact, pretty bad.

Wait a minute. In Russia they deny it all together and have people (like my wife) out in streets getting radioactive rain. Nothing like that happened in Japan.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

eric_herm (1231134) | about 2 years ago | (#41040285)

I think people do not realize that when a disaster strike, most people have better thing to do than communicate in real time. When choosing between spending 2h for a press conference or doing a more urgent coordination work can be the difference between life and death for others, I think this is perfectly ok to focus on not losing lifes.

To remove the emotion out of the equation, imagine you having to finish a very important project. Will you focus on the project, or focus on doing meeting, filling timesheets, etc ?

Sure, if such disasters were routine, governement officials would be able to manage it. In this case, that was far from being routine and it was 2 disasters ( 1 for the nuclear plant, with the whole fear that this can produce (true or not, that's not the point, since fear was real) , one for the tsunami ) at the same time. And yet, people expect more informations, like real time complete report , in a easy to digest form ? I am not sure people do realize what "catastrophic events" mean really, and how this can affect concerned people.

Re:Wrong scare (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#41040233)

They also distributed iodine tablets to the general population. That takes some serious stockpiling and preventive efforts.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41039997)

It was scary because one of the most developped countries in the world had absolutly no control over what happened.

Huh. If you expect even the most developed countries in the world to have any control over tsunamis and earthquakes whatsoever, I'd say that you're overly optimistic about mankind's ability to control its environment.

Re:Wrong scare (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41040291)

Uh, you may not have control over tsunamis, but you certainly have control over whether you put your nuclear reactors along the coast, and, for that matter, whether you allow nuclear reactors within a few hundred miles of an active fault....

Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039841)

The primary concern was contamination of ground/drinking water by ionizing radiation as a byproduct of the coolant leaks and supplementary/emergency coolant runoff. Overall background radiation offset is a minor concern compared to the continuous and ongoing damage that can be caused by a contaminated drinking water supply.

Re:Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039981)

Please... The primary concern was ZOMG RADIATION1! We're gonna get three eyes and be all gamey like Blinky and then DIEEEeeeeeeeeee!!11!111!1111oneoneone

Re:Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040033)

Well... granted. Allow me to amend to say "legitimate concern".

People should be concerned for a different reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039851)

This isn't why people are generally concerned, but it is why they SHOULD be - even OP has failed to understand spot exposure versus whole body exposure. Fukushima hot particles are a big health concern, and they are not factored into many of the recent models equating Chernobyl. Here are some links:

"In the USA, the average effective whole body dose from radon is about 200 mrem per year while the lungs receive approximately 2000 mrem per year,"
http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/train/rad_guide/sources.html

"The Fukushima nuclear accident dispersed airborne dusts that are contaminated with radioactive particles. When inhaled or ingested, these particles can have negative effects on human health that are different from those caused by exposure to external or uniform radiation fields. A field sampling effort was undertaken to characterize the form and concentration of radionuclides in the air and in environmental media which can accumulate fallout."
http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/node/5840

radioactivity in granite (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about 2 years ago | (#41039853)

and I thought living in a cave was safe!

Re:radioactivity in granite (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | about 2 years ago | (#41040307)

and I thought living in a cave was safe!

You still need the tinfoil hat. Then you're OK.

Because silence is the worst reaction. (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41039861)

But over the following weeks and months, the fear grew that the ultimate victims of this damaged nuke would number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The 'hot spots' in Japan that frightened many people showed radiation at the level of .1 rem, a number quite small compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver. What explains the disparity? Why this enormous difference in what is considered an acceptable level of exposure to radiation?"

Because the government and the electrical utility had been completely opaque and not forthcoming with any useful information and preferred to treat the public like children and tell them to go pound sand at public meetings. The government's handling of this from the beginning was a textbook example of how to *not* handle something like this.

So what do people do when they can't get any valid information from their own government? Assume the government is covering it up and assume the worst. And there are plenty of people out there willing to fill the information void with the most outlandish "facts" going.

That's why.

--
BMO

Radon (4, Insightful)

drwho (4190) | about 2 years ago | (#41039907)

Radon, from unventilated places, is the leading cause of radiation induced death. Not nuclear power, nuclear weapons, or nuclear medicine. People need to wise the fuck up, and look at the actual facts and see what is going on. Not only is nuclear power safe, but efforts are underway to make it safer still. Modern nuclear reactor designs using liquid fuels instead of solid are the way to go. But all this anti-nuclear sentiment from alarmists (some of whom are funded by the petroleum industry) make utilities wary of funding the replacement of aging plants.

Re:Radon (2)

chartreuse (16508) | about 2 years ago | (#41040317)

I don't know if many humans would be willing to take essential medical advice from a fictional alien doctor, much less one who could probably eat nuclear waste and crap out Daleks. Why not eat some nuclear waste from the pits at Hanford and get back to us on its health benefits?

Because denver politicians hate their voters? (1)

Snaller (147050) | about 2 years ago | (#41039913)

Am I right? Did I win something?

it made Exxon happy (2, Insightful)

JosephTX (2521572) | about 2 years ago | (#41039923)

I guarantee you that "journalists" were being paid to sensationalize the issue. And people are STILL comparing the fukushima plant to some 1970s Soviet power plant? Incidents like Chernobyl happened due to cheap building and cheaper maintenance; the Fukushima "incident" happened due to a giant tsunami and record seismic activity.

But just look at what's going on now. Japan's shutting down ALL their nuclear power plants so they can import oil from foreign companies, and several European politicians have been pushing for the same thing; meanwhile in the US, this sensationalism has just been cannon fodder for the mindless ranting made by people who own $100 in Exxon/Shell/etc stock.

And these people wouldn't be able to get away with it if it wasn't for the idiots who eat all this up. If you're one of those people who bought into the scare tactics, you share just as much blame as the companies behind it.

Re:it made Exxon happy (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41040143)

Incidents like Chernobyl happened due to cheap building and cheaper maintenance;

No, Chernobyl happened because they completely botched an experiment in one of the worst reactor designs going - a graphite reactor known as the RBMK design. The Russians got the Latvians to finally shut theirs down like a year or two ago. Graphite reactors are *old* and basically unsafe if you do anything outside the design envelope. They will reliably produce heat for your boilers, but don't fuck with them.

You should read the wikipedia page on the accident. It's pretty thorough and one of the better pages in wikipedia.

--
BMO

PS: How old are graphite reactors? They go as far back as the Chicago Pile-1 in 1942. Nobody designs graphite reactors anymore because the hot graphite has a nasty habit of catching fire when exposed to oxygen, as in the case of Chernobyl.

Re:it made Exxon happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040263)

Guess what, Fukushima is 1960s US technology, planted at a spot definately not suited for it and not properly taken care of either. Do you see a connection or do you prefer drinking the cool aid?

Re:it made Exxon happy (0)

JosephTX (2521572) | about 2 years ago | (#41040345)

1960s or not, it wasn't engineered and run by soviets who answered (directly) to clueless tyrants.

Disinformation from the nuclear power industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039925)

If anything, Fukushima has shown the world that everyone should be in a panic all the time about every nuclear reactor, not to mention all the spent fuel. As the official report from the Japanese government said, a nuclear reactor disaster like Fukushima is capable of causing "infinite damage". There have been a number of predictive models that indicate there will be 5-10M+ cancers caused by Fukushima, mostly in Japan and the western US. This number could grow radically if there are more serious issues with Fukushima.

Maybe the WSJ should restrict themselves to writing about lifestyle porn for all the super rich banksters. If one wants to keep up with the ongoing disaster that is Fukushima, a better site is ENENews [enenews.com] .

Re:Disinformation from the nuclear power industry (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41040239)

There have been a number of predictive models that indicate there will be 5-10M+ cancers caused by Fukushima, mostly in Japan and the western US.

Whoa, stop right there, cowboy. Either give us links to those "studies" or stop spreading that crap. These numbers are so outrageously off it's not even funny.

Re:Disinformation from the nuclear power industry (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#41040255)

" There have been a number of predictive models that indicate there will be 5-10M+ cancers caused by Fukushima"

Not shit next to smoking.

Re:Disinformation from the nuclear power industry (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | about 2 years ago | (#41040353)

there will be 5-10M+ cancers caused by Fukushima, mostly in Japan and the western US

Citation-free warnings of apocalypse! We've never seen that on Slashdot, please post more!

Propaganda (4, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41039953)

The author: —Dr. Muller is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. This essay is adapted from his new book, "Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines." Oh, he doesn't even mention that we have to find a way to keep the nuclear waste safe for 150.000 years. We are destroying the world with this. Sure, those reactors can be quite safe, but anyone know of a human-made building that is 150.000 years old and still intact? Didn't think so. Even mountains go and come over that period of time.

Re:Propaganda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040055)

You realize this is the same Muller who argued global warming wasn't happening, and was, perhaps, the biggest authoritative voice against it, until the Koch Bros. funded him to do research on it, wherein Muller ended up realizing all those global warming scaremongers were actually correct...right?

Just making sure you know who you're criticizing.

Re:Propaganda (1)

santax (1541065) | about 2 years ago | (#41040357)

Well, let's hope he will see things a bit more clear on this subject as well in a couple of years. People learn as they go, maybe Muller too.

Re:Propaganda (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41040159)

Well homo sapiens hasn't been been around long enough to have created buildings that are that old, so the premise behind your question is blithering nonsense.

However there are certainly lots of geological formations that have have been stable for 150,000 years. In geological scale that's an eye blink. For example Canada's Acasta Gneiss is 4 billion years old.

There are lots of practical ways of dealing with radioactive leftovers. The best is probably recycling combined with deep geological placement, something the French are getting along with pretty well.

Contradictions (1, Interesting)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 2 years ago | (#41039963)

I always find it funny that the generations of people who grew up living in absolute terror of all things nuclear are the same generations that believed hiding under a piece of furniture would protect them from all things nuclear.

Re:Contradictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040189)

Not so surprising, really. They've been tought that governments (well, and corporations) lie in the most outrages ways imaginable when it comes to nuclear power. Without the education to assess the stuff themselves and no trustworthy source of information (on either side pro/contra), how are they (or anybody else, for that matter) supposed to come up with something other than an emotional reaction?

Re:Contradictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040355)

If you've ever seen what high velocity broken glass can do to someone, you'd take 'duck and cover' a lot more seriously.
Remember, the blast wave comes after the flash.....

There's an obvious difference (3, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41039989)

The radiation in Denver is natural organic radiation, but the toxic killer rems in Japan were made by an evil corporation.

Re:There's an obvious difference (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41040171)

Yes, but radiation from nuclear reactors is fresh and natural, mined from Mother Earth.

Hindsight is 20/20 (2)

PNutts (199112) | about 2 years ago | (#41039995)

It's easy to look at the data today and form an opinion. But back when their reactors were exploding on TV and Japan and the US couldn't agree on how far to evacuate with no end to the disaster in sight other than a real possibility of all the fuel escaping containment a little panic was justified. Had TEPCO been forthcoming about conditions instead of hiding them the panic would have been worse. It's the unknown at the time that caused the most concern. And had there been a SSW wind for the first few days then it would be a much different story instead of most of the radiation going into the toilet that is the Pacific ocean so I don't buy the argument that "See, it's safe because it wasn't worse."

To be fair, cancer is a very unpleasant way to die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41039999)

Yes, people are stupidly fearful of radiation but, to be fair, cancer can be a very unpleasant and painful way to die and the treatments are often unpleasant as well.

Re:To be fair, cancer is a very unpleasant way to (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040065)

I would say that dying in general is rather unpleasant. In fact, I can all but guarantee it. I know that I personally plan to have a nasty surprise for the Reaper when he comes knocking.

Garbage in, Garbage out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040029)

Perhaps because your numbers aren't really accurate. According to this web site: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/03/fukushima_crisis_radiation_exp.html

"The peak doses recorded at Fukushima Daiichi have been around 400 mSv per hour, enough to induce radiation sickness in about two hours’ time."

Initially, no one knew what levels of radiation the general public was being exposed to. And, as others have pointed out, by the time measurements were available there were plenty of reasons for people to mistrust them. In fact, is there any reason to trust the numbers now?

History,perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040051)

The threat from nuclear radiation is quite possibly more real in the minds of the Japanese population than one could expect from inhabitants of Denver. Or any other people on the planet, for a good reason; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

Re:History,perhaps? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#41040277)

There are people living in both of those cities today and the war was not 10000 years ago which you keep hearing bandied about as how long you need to clear a radioactive area. Besides the levels of radioactivity are completely different. Any nuclear power plant meltdown is going to produce much less radiation than a nuclear weapon explosion.

General knowledge of science is unfashionable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040053)

Many more species have become extinct than now exist or have existed any any one time. But those ignorant of this make a tremendous fuss about the extinction of a minor species.

Sea level rises and falls over a range of hundreds of feet over geological time and has done so for millions of years with wide variation of warming and cooling rates. Yet people ignorant of this imagine that the current warming trend, which began thousands of years ago at much higher rates, is being caused by man.

Inorganic toxins occur naturally in varying amounts all over the earth. But because we now have the ability to detect them at parts per billion levels people fear any amount no matter how small.

In short, it is far more fashionable to shout about things than to learn about them in depth. A mob of excited, ignorant people are far more likely to get themselves on television than someone who has spent a lifetime learning the facts. In any event, "democracy" will require giving more weight to the opinions of the ignorant than to the knowledge of the learned.

Welcome to the modern world. Instead of fear of witches, we have fear of facts.

It's easy to make relative comparisons of risk (1)

joeflies (529536) | about 2 years ago | (#41040067)

if you're a nuclear radiation expert dealing with a invisible substance. however, the general public are not radiation experts, they can't see what is and isn't dangerous, and the only guidance they get is from the government, who has not been a reliable source of information. In fact, nobody seems to have the complete story because there were a lot of variables involved in just how much risk there was, due to changing conditions. Perhaps the government provided all the information it had, and it still isn't enough to declare "yes it's safe". It seems like it's relatively easy to monday morning quarterback how to handle a nuclear meltdown. But if I was a resident of Fukushihma, I would have chosen erring on the side of caution rather than being overtly assertive over the radiation readings provided by so called experts.

Chernobyl (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 2 years ago | (#41040127)

I remember hearing about the Soviet response to Chernobyl, and how they initially said things were less dangerous than things actually were. It's a survival instinct to run and question something invisible and dangerous. It's safer to be wrong and flee, then be wrong and stay.

FUD (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040079)

This is just crap. Nuclear power is a silly remainder of the cold war: the power output was just too big for one faction not to have it. In a world where one as to balance reasonable risk against reasonable gain, nuclear power is just a no go. Get over it.

You didn't watch the Dark Knight, did you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040097)

People always panic when things don't go according to plan. Radiation from rocks in the area is a known risk. A nuclear reactor melting down is unexpected. The amount of radiation is irrelevant.

Not a good comparison (5, Informative)

todfm (1973074) | about 2 years ago | (#41040109)

While the Fukushima disaster may have increased the background radiation by a small amount, this isn't the end of the story on radiation exposure from that event. Fukushima also released radioactive particles that, when inhaled or ingested by humans, will expose their tissues to ionizing radiation for the rest of their lives. This is why you can't compare the exposure from events like international flights, which are distributed across your entire body and are transient in nature, to the total effects of a nuclear disaster. Some of the exposures from Fukushima were and will be much more than tolerable, transient increases in the background radiation a la living in Denver. For many people, the hot particles they inhaled or ingested will stay with them forever and will lead to significant cell damage and cancer.

Re:Not a good comparison (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040361)

And pretty much all of those isotopes have completely decayed away and are no longer present anywhere.

lol stupid post of the year award (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41040111)

we have irradiated material washing up on the coast a canada ffs yea nothing to worry about....as the dolphins fled earth formt he vogons
so long and thanks for the the GLOWING fish....

In another related story... (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | about 2 years ago | (#41040173)

I posted a reply [slashdot.org] to a comment in a story a few days ago [slashdot.org] where I pointed out the same thing, namely that peoples' common sense and ability to assess risks both go straight out the window when the word 'nuclear' is mentioned.

But further down the thread, someone responded with some fairly disturbing links describing what sounds like an extremely high incidence of thyroid damage (or at least potential damage) in children near the Fukushima site. [slashdot.org] How seriously are these claims being taken? If even some of this stuff is true, perhaps we aren't doing a good enough job at gathering data about the effects of the Fukushima accident. If that's true, then my existing opinion becomes harder to support.

The truth was certainly the first casualty at Chernobyl. In addition to the usual prompt pronunciations of global doom from the simply-uninformed, other people with specific political motives waved monstrous images of deformed children around, claiming that they were harmed by radiation during pregnancy. Only later did it come to light that the photos were taken in an existing home for special-needs children who were nowhere near Chernobyl and whose health problems had no possible connection to it.

So... is someone trying to pull the same bullshit again... or should ozmanjusri's post be taken seriously?

The Denver rems are organic. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41040363)

They come from nature. That makes them ok. The ones in Japan, on the other hand, come from CHEMICALS!!1!!!

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