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Japan's Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck In Limbo

Soulskill posted 1 year,20 days | from the moving-at-the-speed-of-bureaucracy dept.

Japan 78

mdsolar tips this story at the NY Times: "Every month, Hiroko Watabe, 74, returns for a few hours to her abandoned house near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to engage in her own small act of defiance against fate. She dons a surgical mask, hangs two radiation-measuring devices around her neck and crouches down to pull weeds. She is desperate to keep her small yard clean to prove she has not given up on her home, which she and her family evacuated two years ago after a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami devastated the plant five miles away. Not all her neighbors are willing to take the risk; chest-high weeds now block the doorways of their once-tidy homes. 'In my heart, I know we can never live here again,' said Ms. Watabe, who drove here with her husband from Koriyama, the city an hour away where they have lived since the disaster. 'But doing this gives us a purpose. We are saying that this is still our home.' While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home."

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How about.... (4, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018009)

That you give us actual fucking measurement numbers in millisievert per unit of time instead of scaremongering with ambigious definitions.

If I were 74 years old and my home had an annual 5mSv radiation dose(technically in excess of 2x civilian limits). I would live there, whole fucking year. And if I die of cancer, I'd have done so anyway.

Re:How about.... (5, Informative)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018067)

It's not that simple. It isn't a constant exposure. You hang around long enough and you'll ingest stuff, which is a whole other ball game.

Re:How about.... (0)

durrr (1316311) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018173)

Import food and use rainwater reserviours/wells.
Trying to present it as more dangerous by saying "you're too stupid to understand this terribly complex affliction" is just a bullshit alarmism tactic for hiding your ignorance.

Re:How about.... (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018261)

I was simply saying that they can't simply provide a measure of the radiation exposure and report it. You'd basically have to do a long-term study to figure out what the danger from exposure is. Care to volunteer?

Re:How about.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018515)

I was simply saying that they can't simply provide a measure of the radiation exposure and report it. You'd basically have to do a long-term study to figure out what the danger from exposure is. Care to volunteer?

No, because am young (30). But if I where 74 and volunteering meant staying in my home that I had lived in for many years. I would do it. So let her volunteer. Then spend a few days educating this people and then let them return if their over 50.

There are already volunteers (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021211)

There are already effectively volunteers - There's a fair number of old folks who moved back into their homes on the outskirts of Chernobyl. Thus far their cancer rates are tracking with that of those outside the affected area.

It's my understanding that it's a group a lot like one set of my grandparents - they consider that one spot home and want to stay there, risks or no risks.

Re:There are already volunteers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45023711)

When I vistied, it was the middle aged women on her mobile phone fishing in the canal populated by rusting hulks of contaminated radioactive ships.
But hey ho, life choices eh.

Re:How about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45022735)

Because of high amounts of uranium and radon in the soil the population of Sweden and Finland is exposed to comparably high doses.
This study about indoor radon levels [cusersbore...nilssonpdf] shows an average of 108Bq/m^3 with about 500000 houses over 200Bq/m^3 of which 150000 has over 400Bq/m^3.
The study estimates the equivalent conversion ratio to be 2mSv per 100Bq/m^3
There is also a small graph showing the risk of dying in lung cancer at those levels. The contribution from radiation is insignificant. If you have ever smoked, even if you stopped smoking at the age of 30, the contributing factor from that will be more than then times as high as what you get from 10mSv.

Not that this is any news. From wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

In 2012 the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation stated that for typical background radiation levels (1–13 mSv per year) it is not possible to account for any health effects, and for exposures under 100 mSv, it is only possible in specific conditions.

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't take radiation seriously, but in this particular case the scaremongering have led to an old lady living in fear of the radiation when she could live comfortably in her house and tend to her garden without having to go through all the hoops.
The small amounts of radiation we are talking about won't hurt her and the fresh air will do her good.

We already have multigenerational test groups of two entire nations shows that the levels we are talking about are pretty harmless.
Since no test have been able to show any measurable risk at radiation levels below 100mSv it is irresponsible to scare people for levels below 50mSv.
That scaremongering have already destroyed the life of this old woman and probably thousands of people more.

Re:How about.... (3, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018263)

And also don't breathe. Because dust can be radioactive.
Maybe the people aren't as stupid as you think they are. Maybe you are not as clever as you think you are.

Re:How about.... (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018269)

Yeah, a 74 year old woman is going live like a fucking frontier pioneer.

I don't think you understand what those people even miss. It's not the building or their land, it's the home they had and the community it existed in. Both are gone now and can never come back - even if they finished decontamination tomorrow half the people have moved on with their lives and won't come back.

Re:How about.... (2, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020235)

It's worth pointing out that this sort of dislocation of people from their homes is hardly unique to nuclear plants. Construction of Three Gorges Dam [wikipedia.org] included forcefully relocating 1.3 million people. Itaipu [stanford.edu] required relocating 59,000 people. About 3000 were relocated for Grand Coulee [wikipedia.org] . And the failure of the Banqiao series of hydroelectric dams [wikipedia.org] resulted in 11 million people losing their homes (in addition to ~170,000 being killed).

At least with Fukushima, these people were dislocated only because of an accident, and will eventually be able to reclaim their homes. With hydroelectric dams, those homes and towns are gone for as long as the dam is operational. But that doesn't fit the narrative that renewable energy is harmless while nuclear is evil, so nobody thinks of it that way.

Re:How about.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45022033)

There are no Solar Refugees!

Re:How about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45022715)

It's worth pointing out that this sort of dislocation of people from their homes is hardly unique to nuclear plants. Construction of Three Gorges Dam [wikipedia.org] included forcefully relocating 1.3 million people. Itaipu [stanford.edu] required relocating 59,000 people. About 3000 were relocated for Grand Coulee [wikipedia.org].

It's worth pointing out that you're comparing eminent domain and construction costs with disasters. Why, maybe you'd like to tell us.

At least with Fukushima, these people were dislocated only because of an accident, and will eventually be able to reclaim their homes. With hydroelectric dams, those homes and towns are gone for as long as the dam is operational. But that doesn't fit the narrative that renewable energy is harmless while nuclear is evil, so nobody thinks of it that way.

If a dam fails and wipes out an area, you can start reconstruction within a month. With nuclear radiation, areas can be deadly to humans for decades, or even longer. And the only way a dam failure is going to impact people a hundred miles away is if they are directly downstream. Not so for a plant meltdown. But that doesn't fit with the "nuclear power cannot fail, it can only be failed" mantra from Nuclear Power Fanboys.

Re:How about.... (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45023579)

Not, it's not worth pointing out. The fact that other people have been forced out of their homes does not lessen the suffering of the Fukushima refugees. Also, comparisons between Japan, the world's third largest economy and a very modern democratic country, with places like China are not very useful.

Most people will never be able to reclaim their homes or most of their possessions. It either isn't possible or isn't worth decontaminating them so at best they may be replaced, but then they will be left with a worthless house in a ghost town that no-one wants to buy. The victims are pushing for the government (since they are basically TEPCO's insurers) to buy their homes at the old market value and pay them compensation on top.

Re:How about.... (1)

squizzar (1031726) | 1 year,20 days | (#45023145)

I thought the WHO did a study that discovered the effects of mass evacuations were far more damaging than simply staying in the affected areas were - that the stress caused by panic and hysteria over doses of radiation that aren't particularly high is more damaging than the radiation could be. This is the first google result I could find [financialpost.com] but I'm sure there was a proper report from the WHO.

I also notice that the rhetoric has changed from 'all radiation is deadly evil' to 'ok it's probably not that bad... but you might eat some!!! Horrible death!!!!'. Pro-nuclear types always get moaned at for changing their story, but I notice the anti-nuclear brigade have changed their concerns as well. Is that because of the complete lack of even illness, let alone deaths, due to radiation from Fukushima, including amongst those who are cleaning up the mess? Is it because when people looked at it they realised the linear-no-threshold approach to determining the risk of radiation is pretty weak scientifically (disproven in some studies that found low levels of radiation are beneficial and even necessary)? Is it because a lot of the world is more radioactive anyway and people still live there without coming to a significantly greater level of harm? Is it because although there is a - greater than any nuclear disaster in some cases - risk of floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and - not wanting to be insensitive - tsunamis people still seem to live pretty happy lives in those areas?

Perhaps because a couple of years ago the world was ending, Tokyo was going to be evacuated, the US was going to be irradiated as it all drifted across the ocean, dogs and cats would be living together etc. but actually what we have is a lot of water (a lot of which could have just been dispersed in the ocean), a huge decontamination operation (which probably could have been targeted at areas with actual significant radiation rather than just removing inches of topsoil from entire prefectures), no deaths (other than those caused by the evacuation - oh and the 10's of thousands caused by the Tsunami itself). It must be a big disappointment to the serious doomsday-scenario junkies that none of their predictions have come true so far. It is a disaster, but those happen pretty regularly. More people died from car bombs in the middle east last week than due to Fukushima. 300,000 people were evacuated - Syria has over a million registered refugees already and a death toll of 115,000. The Rwandan genocide has a death toll estimated at 500,000-1,000,000. Fukushima was a big accident, will cost a fortune to clean up, but is nowhere near the scale of disaster it's made out to be.

Re:How about.... (3, Informative)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019911)

"Import food and use rainwater reserviours/wells."

Nice try, but they'll live in tents for the rest of their life.
That's THE risk of nuclear power, they have no insurance, so you'll get about 10.000 bucks for your lavish home if you're lucky.
BTW on other news, the Swiss are complaining to the EU that Germany ruins their nuke Spiel by exporting cheap Solar and Wind energy to Switzerland, a third cheaper (4 cents instead of 6), so even their pumping reservoirs aren't being used anymore for spikes at midday, Germans solar power is way cheaper.

Re:How about.... (0)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020969)

Nice try, but they'll live in tents for the rest of their life.

WTF! You know this for sure? So you think those people are just so helpless that they will be living in tents? Do you feel the Japanese government is so incompetent that they will keep their citizens living in tents forever?

That's THE risk of nuclear power, they have no insurance, so you'll get about 10.000 bucks for your lavish home if you're lucky.

Banqiao Dam 1975; 26,000 killed by the initial flooding. 145,000 dead from starvation and 11 million homeless. We should ban all hydroelectric power!

BTW on other news, the Swiss are complaining to the EU that Germany ruins their nuke Spiel by exporting cheap Solar and Wind energy to Switzerland, a third cheaper (4 cents instead of 6), so even their pumping reservoirs aren't being used anymore for spikes at midday, Germans solar power is way cheaper.

Solar panel installation and maintenance deaths are higher per Kw than coal and nuclear. We better ban that too. Wind has caused at least 79 deaths [wind-works.org] We better stop that menace

Hell, coal, oil and natural gas deaths and health issues go without saying. Obviously they must be stopped. In fact there has been a total of 42,882 electrical deaths from 2003 to 2010 in the US alone [esfi.org] Lets ban electrical lines all together. 30,000 to 50,000 people have died in automotive accidents per year in the US over the last 40 years. And look at all of the land that must be used by roads.

Or maybe we should focus on the dumb-ass mistakes that were made by corporations to save a few pennies by not having better backups in place. Or not flooding the reactor core(s) with seawater sooner. No, that can't be right can it? We must all live in caves and mud huts. Just how "clean" do you think the production of those German solar panels was? What do you think is in them? And what are we going to do with all of that toxic crap in 25 years when they reach EOL?

Wouldn't it be smarter to have a more diverse energy policy? We should strive to reduce coal and use more natural gas. Build safer, newer generation nuclear plants and take the old ones off line. Perhaps educating the population about plutonium reactors even. France seems to have done pretty well. More off shore wind would be great. Too bad there are so many selfish bastards who have enough money to keep that from happening in areas because they don't want to see windmills out of their beach houses.

Re:How about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45023413)

"Import food and use rainwater reserviours/wells."

Nice try, but they'll live in tents for the rest of their life.

For no good reason.

The radiation levels mentioned are lower than what exists naturally in some western countries. For exposure below 100mSv there is no measurable health problems.
Seriously. Sitting on a granite slab exposes you of more radiation than what the people would be exposed to if they went home.

Re:How about.... (3, Interesting)

carnaby_fudge (2789633) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018417)

Is the situation at all like Chernobyl? My understanding is that wildlife there is strangely thriving. Possible this isn't true, but it may be interesting.

Maybe, maybe not. [wikipedia.org]

Re:How about.... (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018885)

Thriving may not be the best word. The situation is a bit more nuanced than that. IIRC the benefit to wildlife of abandoning a large chunk of land was uneven – in particular to those animals at the top of the food chain.

Cataracts are up in animals – something that you almost never see in the wild. It is being cause directly by the radiation – not by ingestion – which surprised me.

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21584963-birds-live-cataracts-chernobyl-not-so-blindingly-obvious?zid=318&ah=ac379c09c1c3fb67e0e8fd1964d5247f [economist.com]

Re:How about.... (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020327)

Wildlife is thriving because of the lack of humans, the contamination affects their health but nowhere near as much as living amongst humans does. Wildlife also thrives in the Korean DMZ, to them a carpet of land mines is safer than living with humans.

Re:How about.... (1)

evilviper (135110) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021801)

If your life expectancy was, say, 30 years, you wouldn't be too concerned with cancer risks, either. Probably not too many ancient tortises thriving in the radiation areas, or any other extremely long-lived animals (like humans).

Re:How about.... (0)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018425)

At 74, it'd still be a reasonable bet.

Re:How about.... (3, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018215)

Even if you don't care about your own life long term, what do you expect your life to be like living there? No younger people will go there, most of your neighbours will have gone, no services, no support. As an added bonus any chance of getting compensation will disappear because you proved your home is habitable. Of course everything in it is worthless now, at least until it is decontaminated and most of it just isn't worth the hassle. That is assuming it even works, a lot of stuff fails if not maintained or used for a couple of years.

Also cancer tends to be a painful and unpleasant death, so it's not something you just decide to take a chance on. Don't expect the doctor to visit you in the exclusion zone either.

Re:How about.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018313)

You mean like this?

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/10/02/world/asia/02japan-map.html?ref=asia

Re:How about.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018371)

Can you just please die of cancer or something already? Seriously. Your comment added nothing to the discussion.

Re:How about.... (1)

TKane (1069880) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018383)

Check out the graphics in the article. They have a friendly color coded map. Green is 50. There is a lot of red on the map.

Re:How about.... (3, Informative)

Tailhook (98486) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019343)

Green is 50

No. The green is clearly labeled "Less than 20". The yellow is 20-50 mSv / year, 50 being the annual limit for workers in the US.

There is a lot of red on the map.

Looks like about 15 sq. miles of red, unintended nature preserve, with >50 mSv/year. All the iodine-131 is long gone so that map is depicting cesium and strontium decay, which will persist for 300 years.

Re:How about.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45020483)

That you give us actual fucking measurement numbers in millisievert per unit of time instead of scaremongering with ambigious definitions.

If I were 74 years old and my home had an annual 5mSv radiation dose(technically in excess of 2x civilian limits). I would live there, whole fucking year. And if I die of cancer, I'd have done so anyway.

Why does everyone on Slashdot have to add the word "fucking" when they are trying to sound indignant about a subject. I have no real problem with strategic swearing, but it makes the Slashdot crowd seem like a bunch of little kids or fat fuckers with pony tails. See how that swearing was useful, but yours wasn't?

Re:How about.... (1)

citizenr (871508) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021111)

actual readings are less than Chernobyl exclusion zone (that is being repopulated for over 3 years now).

Re:How about.... (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021685)

That you give us actual fucking measurement numbers in millisievert per unit of time instead of scaremongering with ambigious definitions.

If I were 74 years old and my home had an annual 5mSv radiation dose(technically in excess of 2x civilian limits). I would live there, whole fucking year. And if I die of cancer, I'd have done so anyway.

Well the city of Namie (within the 10km radius) that is mentioned in the story, was sort of lucky and didn't get all that much fallout and has something like the 5mSv of a yearly dose rate like you mention. But it i surrounded by other communities that has more than 10-20 times higher dose rates, even though some of them are further out in the 20-30 km radius. There is no scaremongering, just reporting on a serious situation. Also I don't think a 74 year old woman is likely to do very well in a community that has no services, and where everything is shut down.

If... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018027)

your house lands in the fallout zone of a major nuclear incident, let it go man. Cause its gone.

Re:If... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018111)

Not true, under Obama-Care this is where they will send all those deemed unfit by the death panels, he's such a petty dictator isn't he? Just look how he treat our ww11 war heroes. What scum.

Re:If... (0)

Falconhell (1289630) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021369)

Yeh it is a pity the US has third world healthcare, and can't even move to second world health care.

Re:If... (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | 1 year,6 days | (#45148527)

Ah Slashdot mods, where the truth is trolling.

Retirement colonies? (2)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018073)

How about letting the elderly live there? It takes time for low level radiation to cause tumors. If you're old enough that you won't be around to see the cancer, you have nothing to worry about.

Re:Retirement colonies? (4, Insightful)

a.d.trick (894813) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018183)

Old people usually need younger people to take care of them.

Re:Retirement colonies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018641)

There are also a lot of completely independent 70+ year olds, add to that an area where it is safe to allow other people in for limited time, and everything should be fine if they were to manage access for service and repair crews on a rotating basis.

Re:Retirement colonies? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018971)

I can’t think of any 70+ year olds that live complexly independently. Heck, I can’t think of anybody in their 20s.

Usually there are a few youngsters around providing services – keeping the stores open, collecting garbage, maintaining utilities, etc.

Re:Retirement colonies? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,20 days | (#45021757)

I do, my grandparents come pretty close.

Like somebody mentioned - rotate the younger ones around, and you don't need it to be 100% or even 50% of 70+ year olds for it to be handy living space. Worst case, if they don't drop from heart attack/stroke and eventually become disabled you move them out of the area.

A challenge. (0, Troll)

Anachragnome (1008495) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018139)

I propose a challenge.

I challenge the wealthy individuals that have made The Giving Pledge to fix this problem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giving_Pledge [wikipedia.org]

These people are the wealthiest people on the planet. They have the greatest level of resources available to them, both in the form of personal wealth and that of continued control of the worlds most powerful--and capable--corporations on the planet.

I challenge you--those that have made the pledge--to set aside your differences, political and financial aspirations and solve this problem. Forever. Just get it done.

The world is watching.You have the greatest opportunity to solve this threat, a threat to all life on our planet. NOW is the time to show the rest of the world just what kind of people you are, to show your moral fiber and to return some of your wealth to those that made it possible, and to do so in probably the most profound way possible--everyone stands to gain from such an act.

Time to put your money where your mouths are and start giving, not just your money but your corporations as well. Get them working on this problem. Use your connections to cut through the TEPCO bureaucracy, through the government red-tape. Use your patents and technologies to the greatest effect.

If you really want to help the world, the time is now.

Thank you.

Re:A challenge. (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018171)

Umm, just exactly what problem are you asking them to solve?

I thought the subject was Fukushima, which is NOT "a threat to all life on our planet".

Re:A challenge. (0, Troll)

Anachragnome (1008495) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018445)

"I thought the subject was Fukushima, which is NOT "a threat to all life on our planet"

You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet? Do you realize that TEPCO has no plan to even decommission these reactors, let alone clean up the mess that they have now? I don't think you realize the seriousness of the situation. This is potentially far greater then Chernobyl. There are four reactors, all the associated hardware and 4 spent fuel-rod cooling pools still suspended in the I-beams of those blasted reactor buildings. One serious earthquake can simply topple those cooling pools, dumping the contents all over the site. There is no current plan to remove those spent rods--they just sit there.

Seriously, nobody has any idea what to do about this. All TEPCO is doing is slowing the flow of leaks and stockpiling the water they collect, water flowing off an entire mountain--they have no plan whatsoever to deal with the reactors themselves, or the storage ponds.

TEPCO is in charge of this mess...and they do next to nothing. Do you have any better ideas?

Re:A challenge. (2)

kellymcdonald78 (2654789) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019325)

I guess then the new cover building and fuel transport crane that has been built over unit 4, doesn't exist. Not to mention all of the work to restore the service floor and fuel handing machinery plus the testing and inspections that are being done in preparation of starting to remove stored fuel next month is a figment of peoples imagination. The 123 pgase updated TEPCO decomissioning plan approved June 27 by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry must be a fairy tail. Care to try again with some facts instead of "AHHHHHH WE'RE ALL DEAD!!!!!!!!!"

Re:A challenge. (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019483)

You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

You got it right in my case as well. I don't see that because it isn't a threat to life on this planet.

TEPCO is in charge of this mess...and they do next to nothing. Do you have any better ideas?

Sure, move that stuff aside, recycle what nuclear fuel you can, and let the rest cool down for a few centuries. Meanwhile, build a new group of reactors there. You have this great place for nuclear reactors - plenty of land, water, and it even has a nice wide exclusion zone. And now you know how bad earthquakes and tsunami can get. So that particular disaster will never catch you off guard again.

For the land of the exclusion zone, you can now use it for industrial purposes or green spaces.

Re:A challenge. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | 1 year,20 days | (#45023889)

You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

You got it right in my case as well. I don't see that because it isn't a threat to life on this planet.

Personally I go off of evidence. The evidence for this danger is in the nature of bioaccumulation and the quantity and type of radionuclides being released, which is being suppressed. I get really tired of people ranting about "it isn't a threat to life on this planet" who couldn't even figure out basic risk management. Risk management can handle long term risks as well as short term ones.

In reality there is a threat, it's just difficult to quantify. A more accurate statement would be "We don't know what threat Fukushima poses to life on this planet". I'll giving you the benefit of the doubt here, I wouldn't blame you for not being able to work it out, it's a hard problem, but saying it isn't a threat is just foolish optimism.

However if there is no danger why do anything at all? So there must be some danger otherwise why not just bull doze the entire thing into the ocean?

The answer is in the way radioactive elements accumulate in the food chain like some other dangerous chemicals like Poly Chloride Biphenyls. However radioactive isotopes also analogue a variety of elements that living creatures need to survive. Compounding this further they are emmiters of alpha, beta and, gamma radiation at various energetic levels.

So, pu-239 presents to the metabolism as a micro-nutrient. In Plutonium's case it presents as Iron to a metabolism. In the ocean a *lack* of iron is what stops metabolic processes, so Iron is readily absorbed ergo Plutonium is readily absorbed. So a small sea creature absorbs the plutonium and it gets eaten by steadily larger creatures, like a fish and then it's in the human food chain. Considering the size and variety of the human food chain, this is inevitable more than once.

This is the main reason to arrest the flow of Fukushima cooling water into the ocean, as plutonium is only one of the elements that it contains that has this property - but I'll follow with this single radioisotope as an example.

A single micro gram of plutonium is a fatal dose to a human being when ingested. As more isotopes are released into the environment the likelihood of exposure increases. The amount of time it takes to move through the food chain introduces a random amount of time before eventually ingested - by an actual person. From there a gestation time passes, like the flu is approximately 7 days, cancer is approximately 6 years. So even if someone ingests something immediately from Fukushima you still have a 6 year wait before you notice aything wrong.

Depending on the radionuclide, there are different cancers, radon 220 that causes lung cancer, or radium 226 that causes bone cancers, strontium 90, americium, iodine 131, cesium 137, the list goes on. The exposure vectors are many and varied. What has protected us is the likelihood of encountering one was low. Everyday this continues the possibility increases.

For airborne fallout, say just like TMI, the jetstream was the perfect carrier to the west coast of the US ensuring good coverage of land based produce. A cow eats radioactive grass, accumulates, say, strontium 90 in the milk, the milk is made into chocolate and you eat it in one of those multi-colored candy covered chocolate treats you so enjoy. Do you enjoy sushi? You can be exposed one or multiple times and after you die cremation makes the radioisotope airborne fallout amd decay allows it back into the watertable.

As for the risk, it's somewhere above 0% that some people will be exposed. However using an established case of Chernobyl. 5% of a 160 ton Nuclear reactor core that was about to be refueled - let's call it 100 tons, that's 5 tons of radioactive core into the atmosphere. At conservative estimates thats 5000,000,000,000 fatal doses. If we accept that an extremely conservative estimate of 1% of this makes it into the food chain via bio-accumulation and of that a conservative estimate of 1% of people are exposed and a conservative 1% of those exposed actually get some sort of fatal cancer that's 5,000,000 fatalities.

The difference is Chernobyl was land locked, but Fukushima is right next to the ocean and radio isotopes are finding their way into the Pacific ocean everyday. Fukushima is a slower disaster than Chernobyl, the difference is that the risk of a plutonium fire exists - which is why so much water is being used in the first place. If that happens it will release a significant amount of plutonium onto the west coast of the US via the air and into the Pacific.

As for presenting the evidence, this is how the science of bio-accumulation works, it's an established fact. Until the Japanese government is more forthcoming with actual information making accurate estimations about the levels of exposure are difficult therefore making any "basic risk management" more so. At 300tons of water per day that has been directly exposed to radioactive particles from the core of a reactor that the INES suggests is a Level 3 accident in itself, I'd suggest it's unlikely to be a trivial amount.

So I've presented the salient points of radionuclide accumulation in the food chain. It's a complex subject and I encourage you to find out more, if you are able to, so you are better able to understand the long term risks. If we are very lucky there maybe someone around smart enough to actually calculate the risks based those facts once we have actualy data on how much material is being realeased into the ocean.

Re:A challenge. (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,19 days | (#45026611)

Personally I go off of evidence. The evidence for this danger is in the nature of bioaccumulation and the quantity and type of radionuclides being released, which is being suppressed. I get really tired of people ranting about "it isn't a threat to life on this planet" who couldn't even figure out basic risk management. Risk management can handle long term risks as well as short term ones.

At least, you have the language down. Now all you need is the thinking. I suggest starting by looking at evidence.

So, pu-239 presents to the metabolism as a micro-nutrient. In Plutonium's case it presents as Iron to a metabolism. In the ocean a *lack* of iron is what stops metabolic processes, so Iron is readily absorbed ergo Plutonium is readily absorbed. So a small sea creature absorbs the plutonium and it gets eaten by steadily larger creatures, like a fish and then it's in the human food chain. Considering the size and variety of the human food chain, this is inevitable more than once.

Scary, dangerous radiation isn't the only thing that dissolves in water. Let us keep in mind that there is a lot of steel in the structure of Fukushima and that dissolves in water as well. So we have trace amounts of plutonium mixed in with non-trace amounts of iron. Iron bio-accumulates too.

A single micro gram of plutonium is a fatal dose to a human being when ingested.

Nope. If it is breathed in, that's the claimed lethal dosage. We need to recall that this may be a bit of Cold War fiction since exaggerating the danger of plutonium would hinder nuclear proliferation to some degree.

Depending on the radionuclide, there are different cancers, radon 220 that causes lung cancer, or radium 226 that causes bone cancers, strontium 90, americium, iodine 131, cesium 137, the list goes on. The exposure vectors are many and varied. What has protected us is the likelihood of encountering one was low. Everyday this continues the possibility increases.

Not really. These things have a half life too. So while there are ways for them to enter the environment, there are also ways that they exit the environment.

However using an established case of Chernobyl. 5% of a 160 ton Nuclear reactor core that was about to be refueled - let's call it 100 tons, that's 5 tons of radioactive core into the atmosphere.

Complete bullshit. There was a fire pushing considerable mass into the atmosphere from Chernobyl. Even the fuel rod fire wasn't comparable.

At conservative estimates thats 5000,000,000,000 fatal doses.

A completely laughable claim.

If we accept that an extremely conservative estimate of 1% of this makes it into the food chain via bio-accumulation and of that a conservative estimate of 1% of people are exposed and a conservative 1% of those exposed actually get some sort of fatal cancer that's 5,000,000 fatalities.

Why I grant your first number may be close to accurate, the other two are laughably off by orders of magnitude. Nobody eats fish directly from Fukushima. The biosphere of the Japanese coastal area is vast and people don't eat 1% of that mass. And that's a ridiculous exaggeration of the chances of getting cancer.

Re:A challenge. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | 1 year,17 days | (#45048601)

At least, you have the language down. Now all you need is the thinking. I suggest starting by looking at evidence.

As I pointed out, the evidence is not being made available which is why I said it's just difficult to quantify. A more accurate statement would be "We don't know what threat Fukushima poses to life on this planet" . In absence of hard data the only thing that remains is estimations, known facts about operational characteristics of the reactors, the status of the reactor during the disaster and the behaviour of the radionuclides.

Thinking does not begin with statements like "I don't see that because it isn't a threat to life on this planet" which indicates dogmatic skepticism on this subject and unprepared to accept any evidence.

Iron bio-accumulates too.

Iron isn't toxic as a micronutrient, and it isn't a highly energetic radionuclide. It's also a component of haemoglobin, plutonium isn't.

Nope. If it is breathed in, that's the claimed lethal dosage. We need to recall that this may be a bit of Cold War fiction since exaggerating the danger of plutonium would hinder nuclear proliferation to some degree.

The science was conducted In 1944 by J. Robert Oppenheimer with an original lethality of 50-100 micrograms later revised down by Evans. Calculation led to answers between 0.5-5.0 micrograms [.033-.33 uCi of Pu-239].

That's not fiction, it's information.

Not really. These things have a half life too. So while there are ways for them to enter the environment, there are also ways that they exit the environment.

In sr-90's case that's 600 years, so eventually. The question is where it ends up decaying, in the earth not to bad - in your body, not to good.

Complete bullshit. A completely laughable claim.

So says you

There was a fire pushing considerable mass into the atmosphere from Chernobyl. Even the fuel rod fire wasn't comparable.

and an explosion that blew some portion of the core, the reactor head and the building above it into the sky.

Why I grant your first number may be close to accurate, the other two are laughably off by orders of magnitude. Nobody eats fish directly from Fukushima. The biosphere of the Japanese coastal area is vast and people don't eat 1% of that mass. And that's a ridiculous exaggeration of the chances of getting cancer.

I wasn't claiming that was the case with Fukushima, I was claiming it was the case for Chernobyl. I don't have enough data I can use to make an estimation for Fukushima yet as that information is being suppressed. There is a much larger mass of fuel material and surface area there though because of the spent fuel in the pools from previous refuelling efforts and that it is going into the ocean where it is impossible to control. What we know is the explosion at Fukushima was from vented hydrogen exploding as opposed to extreme pressure and heat in the core of Chernobyl.

It's important to remember that the result is cumulative doses from both these disasters in the environment. The Fukushima disaster took that from 160 to roughly 1000 tons of uncontrolled pu-239 in the environment.

These manifest as a long term "threat to life on this planet" over time. How much of a threat that is depends much on the human capability to contain and control the release of all the radionuclides, not just plutonium. To be specific though, humans are "life on this planet" and the various threats, via implications to human health, will increase everyday more radionuclides released into the environment.

Re:A challenge. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020039)

You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

No, I don't. Perhaps because I have an idea of how much natural radioactivity is already in the oceans of the world (hint: grind up the four reactors in question, and dump them into the oceans, and you won't even be able to measure the increase over backgound).

The numbers for Fukushima sound really big, But once you spread them through 1,250,000T tons of water, they don't look so significant....

Re:A challenge. (1)

fritsd (924429) | 1 year,20 days | (#45023823)

No, I don't. Perhaps because I have an idea of how much natural radioactivity is already in the oceans of the world (hint: grind up the four reactors in question, and dump them into the oceans, and you won't even be able to measure the increase over backgound). The numbers for Fukushima sound really big, But once you spread them through 1,250,000T tons of water, they don't look so significant....

I suddenly have a mental image of Fat Bastard (from Austin Powers fame) in a full train waggon, having just farted, and kindly admonishing his fellow travelers: "Oops! Sorry that was a horrible fart! But, if you all breathe deeply for a few minutes, it will be filtered and diluted enough that nobody has to die from the concentrated stuff. Go on, then!"

Re:A challenge. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45021237)

What a tragic example of ignorance and innumeracy.

The overwhelming majority (>95%) of radioactivity released into the environment was realeased in the first week after the accident. All other releases are extremely minor; a trickle. That includes all the enormously hyped water "issues" that everyone is hearing about. The entire amount of radioactivity released into the Pacific Ocean since the accident is only on the order of one millionth the overall amount of naturally-occurring radioactivity in that ocean. No significant radioactivity levels have been found in seafood caught anywhere but in the immediate vicinity of the plant. Nobody outside the local region will ever recieve any significant dose, from seafood or anything else.

They have detailed plans to empty the spent fuel pools and decommission the reactors. It just takes time, especially given the extreme caution being taken. Spent fuel removal from the pools is scheduled to start soon I believe (next year at the latest). As for the water problems, the plan is (or should be) to filter the water to greatly reduce contamination levels, and then discharge the water into the sea. They're having problems because 1) one of the filtration systems went offline recently, and 2) they're having trouble getting permission to release even post-processed water (with trivial radiation levels).

Again, the lack of persepctive is astonishing. Ongoing releases are tiny compared to the main event, and even the main event is projected to have no measurable health impacts. Meanwhile, Japan's fossil fueled plants will kills thousands of Japanese every year and contribute greatly to global warming. The ongoing impacts from the Fukushima plant (e.g., water leaks, etc..) are less than those of a single coal plant (under normal operation). Certainly less than the fleet of fossil plants being used to replace nuclear. And yet, there is no press coverage at all of that much larger risk.

Jim Hopf

Re:A challenge. (1)

lennier (44736) | 1 year,20 days | (#45022265)

Do you realize that TEPCO has no plan to even decommission these reactors, let alone clean up the mess that they have now?

Arguably "decommissioning" Fukushima Da-ichi isn't a problem because the reactors are already way, way out of commission. Decommissioning is what you do to unexploded reactors. The problem now is containment (very difficult because of groundwater flow) and then cleanup (a very long-term job).

There is no current plan to remove those spent rods--they just sit there.

Actually TEPCO is planning on moving the spent fuel rods from the mostly-unexploded reactor come November, but they're going to want to do it very very carefully [reuters.com] . Getting them moved seems like an important thing, but actually doing it is probably the most dangerous part.

Seriously, nobody has any idea what to do about this.

And there's the rub. The problem is that there basically isn't any way to clean up a situation like Fukushima where there's a meltdown in groundwater; this has been known to the nuclear industry for decades, and the answer has always been "we know this is an unsolveable problem, but we believe the odds of this happening are so low as to be unthinkable, because we have multiple redundant safety systems." The GE boiling water reactors especially took this philosophy to extremes; they don't have containment to deal with a meltdown because the suppression torus was supposed to make a meltdown impossible.

This kind of tempting-the-wrath-from-high-atop-the-thing reasoning from the industry is exactly why the anti-nuclear-power protest movement started gaining traction in the 1970s. Activists kept asking "yes, your active failsafes are shiny, but what if the unthinkable happens? How will you clean it up?" And the industry kept saying "we can't, but don't worry, it won't! Stop worrying!"

As anyone in IT should know from bitter experience, you can have all the multiple redundant disaster planning you want, but reality always tends to come up with interesting disaster scenarios your plan didn't account for. And "we're betting the worst case will never happen" is your cue to sell stocks and head for the door.

Re:A challenge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 days | (#45031995)

No way to “clean it up”, eh? Is there any practical way to clean up all the pollutants (e.g., arsenic and mercury) that have been distributed throughout the biosphere (into the soil and water) by coal plant emissions, or by auto exhaust, or oil refineries? Your criterion seems to be that an industry (or energy source) must be able to completely clean up and remove any pollutants or toxic materials it ever puts into the environment. A standard of perfection. You’re right. Nuclear can’t meet that. Neither can any other industry or energy source. At least with nuclear, releases of pollution are exceedingly rare, whereas with fossil fuels they are continuous. And scientific analyses repeatedly show that nuclear’s impacts are orders of magnitude less than those of fossil fuels, even including rare nuclear accidents.

Your premise is that the long term effects of Fukushima, i.e., local soil or groundwater contamination that can never be completely cleaned up, represents an unprecedented, unacceptable situation, in terms of environmental or public health impact. This notion is ridiculous. Experts agree that there will be no measurable public health impacts from the event, over the short or long term, even given all the issues you describe. And at least in this case, the primary pollutants will decay away with a 30-year half life, whether they are in the soil, the groundwater or the ocean (including any radioactivity that can’t practically be cleaned up). Groundwater and soil pollution from the oil industry will have a far greater long term impact.

The case for nuclear is not based on the notion that while the effects of an accident are apocalyptic, the probability is extremely low. Quite the reverse. The point is that the impacts are tiny compared to fossil fuels, even with periodic severe accidents. What Fukushima showed is that the health and environmental impacts of even a worst-case accident are far lower than we thought; lower than the impacts inflicted EVERY DAY by fossil-fueled power generation.

Jim Hopf

Re:A challenge. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018365)

As a member of the 1 Percent, I am happy to inform you that your words have deeply moved us, and we will be fixing this first thing tomorrow. It's a good thing that most of us read /. and were thus able to see your post! Thank you!

Re:A challenge. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,20 days | (#45018423)

You want them to spend their money fixing a problem in a rich country? A problem well within the financial ability of Japan to pay on its own? Gee, where do I sign up for donations?

Re:A challenge. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45018433)

Dear Peon,

Wherever did you get the quaint idea that us rich people want to help the world? We don't. And we certainly don't want to change the world, either. We make a lot of noise when we donate money but that is only to make the 99% (that's you, peon) think what good people we are.

Confused about radiation levels (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019023)

I am really friekin' confused as to the radiation around Fukushima.

She considers weeding her driveway so risky that she waved away a visitor who offered to help, pointing to her dosimeter showing readings two and a half times the level that would normally force an evacuation.

Why is the radiation in her driveway so high? Why is it safe to walk around there, but not to weed the driveway?

Every time she visits, she said, she receives a dose equivalent to one or two chest X-rays even if she remains indoor

Where is that radiation coming from if they are inside their house?

Re:Confused about radiation levels (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019707)

The radioactive material from Fukushima Daiichi accumulates in the soil and in the plants. Digging and pulling plants out of the ground is pretty much one of the most dangerous things you can do around there.

Re:Confused about radiation levels (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030357)

But the soil contamination flowed from the plant, toward the sea, not toward land. So how did the soil further inland get contaminated?

Re:Confused about radiation levels (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030775)

It's not like a liquid that flows in one direction, it gets blown around and spread in all directions.

Re:Confused about radiation levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45021009)

The answer goes something like "fallout". Majority, if not all of it, comes down with rain and gathers wherever rainwater pools. After a few rains most of it will be washed off the asphalt and into the roadside gutters, not to mention where rainwater flows from the roof etc. And when it's not raining? Well, that cesium-laced soil is going to rise up as dust and spread everywhere, get breathed in and so forth.
That said, I do wonder about the "even if she remains indoors". One thing to note is chest X-ray is really quite little radiation. The famous XKCD chart states it's 0.02 mSv, presumably effective does (ie. "effectively same effect as", the dose to chest will be higher but as it's not whole-body it's thought to be less dangerous). 365 * 2 * 0.02 mSv = 14,6 mSv / year, if she stays there 24 hours which is under the Fukushima 20 mSv/year evacuation limit. In 50 mSv/year radiation it would be 7 chest X-rays per 24h.
Incidentally, to convert those levels to more common terms, 14,6 mSv / year = 14,6 mSv / 365 / 24 = 1,7 microSv/hour, 20 mSv = 2,3 microSv / hour, 50 mSv = 5,7 microSv / hour. For the "If I were" people, Google up Naoto Matsumura, the sole resident of Tomioka, with one article quoting about 7 microSv/h and 2 microSv/h indoors. Those numbers would seem to match up with the "two chest X-rays" idea. For the "Chernobyl wildlife refuge" ideas, check out http://japandailypress.com/wild-boars-increasing-in-fukushima-damaging-more-farmland-2536543/ - wild boars already taking over Fukushima prefecture. Of course wild animals cope with high mortality (and have much shorter lifespans than humans) anyway, so that tells nothing about the relative danger.

Re:Confused about radiation levels (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | 1 year,19 days | (#45030567)

The term fallout doesn't apply here.

Fallout: Radioactive particles that are carried into the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion or accident and gradually fall back as dust or in precipitation.

Terminology aside: Are you saying that the groundwater washed the radioactive material into the ocean, then it evaporated and fell on nearby areas?

As for the dosage:

One thing to note is chest X-ray is really quite little radiation. The famous XKCD chart states it's 0.02 mSv,

Her dosimeter should be telling her the number in mSv per hour. So when she says a chest X-ray, that it a meaningless number. I assumed she meant a chest x-ray per hour, which would quickly accumulate into a dangerous dosage.

It sounds to me like you share the same confusion on this that I do, but made a different assumption. This is the problem with these articles. It's all half-information and guesswork.

Holding Pattern (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019603)

The problem seems to be not knowing if the clean up will happen or not. Since no one knows how to do the job, that is not too surprising. But, at least there is a promise of compensation for lost property if the clean up is a no go. If the same thing were to happen at Indian Point, the NRC has said there would be zero compensation. http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2013/09/new-york-wonders-where-nuclear-cleanup-funds-would-come/70800/?oref=ng-dropdown [nextgov.com] And, if you check your home owners policy, there is nothing there either.

Re:Holding Pattern (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45019765)

The problem is that compensation for property isn't enough, not by a long shot. Those communities are gone. People's jobs, whole companies are gone. They money will never be enough.

go home? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45019669)

Seriously, why do people get so obsessed with their "home" which is really but a location they grow up?

That place is totally fucked up and it's a waste of time to recover or rebuild. Just abandon it and live somewhere else nice. We have the entire earth and soon the universe as our home!

Re:go home? WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45020131)

Idiot.

Re:go home? WTF? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020595)

Yeah, just keep trashing this place, we don't need it, we will have that 8 billion seat interstellar transport ready any day now. When will space cadets understand that if we can't rebuild the life support system on our current circum-stella spaceship, we can't possibly build a brand one into the boot of your imagined interstellar ship.

typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45019959)

Sheesh, how low can you go?

Give the Japanese part of Africa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45020027)

And move the equivalent number of Africans into Japan.

What do you think each country will look like in one year's time?

(I know Africa isn't a country, I mean 'area of Africa that the Japanese have moved into')

After all, we all know that it's the LAND MASSES themselves which are the reason for the huge difference between what the Japanese people produce, invent, etc. and what the African produces, invents (LOL), manufactures (LOL), right?

It couldn't be their DNA, could it?

Radiation levels & evacuation (2)

tlambert (566799) | 1 year,20 days | (#45020243)

Radiation levels & evacuation

The Japanese government is coming close to lifting the evacuation order; the radiation is declining quickly. Here are the cumulative numbers from 3/23/2011 to 5/2/2011:

5/2/2011: 24.14 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 5/1); +2.99 milli-sieverts from previous week)
4/25/2011: 21.15 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/24; +3.17 milli-sieverts from previous week)
4/18/2011: 17.98 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/17; +3.5 milli-sieverts from previous week)
4/11/2011: 14.48 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/10; +4.14 milli-sieverts from previoius week)
4/4/2011: 10.34 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/3; +5.527 milli-sieverts from previous week)
3/28/2011: 4.813 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 3/27; +3.276 milli-sieverts in 3 days)
3/25/2011: 1.537 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 3/24)

Source: http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/syousai/1304002.htm [mext.go.jp]

They intend to allow unrestricted repopulation of the area in early 2017. To get the 20 mSev level for 40 days, they had to pick the days right after the disaster.

The radiation levels are actually not that high these days, since most of the continuing leakages is from the poorly isolated holding pond, which they have failed to repair, into the the ocean, as opposed to into the air, which is what happened initially.

Re:Radiation levels & evacuation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45022627)

The type of exposure and the type of radiation is just as important as the measure of mS. This idea that all radiation is equal is ignorant.

Sievert accounts for biological effect (1)

Bananenrepublik (49759) | 1 year,20 days | (#45022945)

Sievert is the unit of what is called "equivalent dose". As such, it takes biological effects into account, and different types of radiation are taken into account differently. The measure of "dose" is the Gray, which is J/kg (energy per mass).

Re:Radiation levels & evacuation (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,20 days | (#45023595)

Those are the overall levels measured in free air. Because the material accumulates there are hot spots everywhere, and activities like playing or digging in the earth are dangerous. The government won't allow people back until the decontamination is complete, and at the moment it looks unlikely to be done by 2017 because in areas where it has been attempted it has failed.

In any case, how many people do you think will want to go back after 6 years? They will have moved on, got new jobs, maybe started a family or died.

Perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45021123)

Let me start by saying that the govt's policy about not giving compensation if they think that people's homes can be cleaned isn't right. For all homes within regions that are over 20 mSv/year (the evacuation threshold), the owner should be given full compensation, to buy a new home elsewhere, if they want it. Not only is it uncertain how long cleanup will take, but it should be their choice. I also take the point about how if an area has been evacuated, it is hard to restart a society and economy, which makes it even more true that the evacuees should have the choice. (It should be noted, however, that the same applies to areas destroyed and evacuated by the earthquake and tsunami.)

The article also suggests that they're trying to avoid paying compensation because it will help make the case for restarting reactors (be reducing the estimated "cost"??) If so, they've got it 180-degrees wrong. Making these people whole and allowing them to get on with their lives will restore some faith in the govt. and utility, and make the restart case easier. Also, the continued suffering of these people in limbo makes for continued stories (like this one) that can't be helping the industry's image or popularity.

That said, having to move somewhere else (perhaps only a few miles) is a hell of a lot better than being killed (or sickened). People are losing perspective, of the things that really matter. The fact is that Fukushima, the only significant release in non-Soviet nuclear's entire 50-year history, has caused no deaths and is projected to have no measurable health impact. Meanwhile, fossil fueled power generation, like that Japan has decided to use in lieu of nuclear, causes several hundred thousand deaths every single year, along with global warming. Also, ~20,000 died in the tsunami.

It should also be noted that in most of the areas, including yellow and much orf the red areas on the map, radiation levels are actually below the (~100 mSv/yr) level at which any clearly measurable (statistically significant) increase in cancer risk is observed. So, many of the comments here that have a premise of significant cancer increases among people who would choose to live in these areas are off base. Any increases would be slight, at most, especially for older people (as some have pointed out). Also, I believe that they're (logically) focusing their clean up efforts on populated areas, so the dose rates in the villages are actually lower than what the map shows. It is true that radiation drifts back in to some degree, requiring continuous recleaning. Nonetheless, residents shouldn't be getting nearly as much as the map suggests.

Oh, an finally, it's not like such situations are unprecedented. After hurricane Katrina in the US, large sections of New Orleans were destroyed and were permanently abandoned. Many if not most of the displaced population never came back, but instead moved to other cities like Houston, or Chicago, etc... I believe that any compensation from the US govt. that these people got was meager at best; nowhere near enough to buy a new home. Jobs, you say? They were on their own in that respect to. And the size of the affected population with Katrina was ~10 times the size of the population being affected by the Fukushima meltdown. Of course, that received nowhere near the coverage that Fukushima's evacuees have, simply because nuclear power is involved.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45021137)

Not sure how to register so that my real name (vs. "coward") shows up. The name's Jim Hopf.

Re:Perspective (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,20 days | (#45022457)

Jim,

Just click "log in" in the upper right and you'll be offered a chance to get a laughably high user number like mine. I think you are mistaken on a number of areas here. For example, people can buy flood insurance. They can't buy nuclear accident insurance.

Stuck in Limbo? (1)

jmhobrien (2750125) | 1 year,20 days | (#45022323)

I know that feeling, it can be a challenging game at times. But I'm sure these refugees are smart enough to figure out the puzzles if they persist.

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