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back to article Fukushima's toxic legacy: Ignorance and fear

Events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan continue to unfold, with workers there steadily restoring redundancy and containment measures across the site. It remains highly unlikely that the workers themselves will suffer any measurable health consequences from radiation, and – continued media scaremongering …

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media frenzy - again

This story has been yet another blog to sell a product like newspapers and television advertising. Any sane person will overlook the hokum the media pushes forth every day, that is why I don't waste money on newspapers and as far as television news -- I watch all the foreign news available on Freesat.http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_down_32.png

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Dead Vulture

README

"http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_down_32.png"

Will people stop dragging the icons into to their comments? I saw some idiot append URLs to *all* his stupid comments on some Lewis Page military kit rant because he presumably thought it put the icon next to the comment.

IT DOES NOT DO THIS!

Sheesh, people, just click on the icon.

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Anonymous Coward

Dunno about media frenzy...

... but the El Reg forums frenzy is in full flow again. I think reactions to Lewis's not-a-disaster stories are becoming as predictable as the comment frenzy that used to accompany the Gary McKinnon stories.

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Media fail versus Lewis Fail

Unfortunately, this Lewis story fails just as badly as the Media frenzy he loves to hate.

Quote Lewis:

"It's now thought that some 18 million youngsters across the region consumed dangerously contaminated milk as a result, containing iodine levels thousands of times higher than those seen now in Japan, and that as a result their chance of getting cancer increased from say 25 per cent (or whatever it would normally have been) to 25.02 per cent."

Quote scientific study:

"Thyroid cancer incidence trends in Belarus: examining the impact of Chernobyl", [Int. J. Epidemiol. (2004) 33 (5): 1025-1033, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyh201] (took 5 mins of Googling):

" Age-adjusted thyroid cancer incidence rates (adjusted to the WHO 2000 world population) have increased between 1970 and 2001 from 0.4 per 100 000 to 3.5 per 100 000 among males (+775%) and from 0.8 per 100 000 to 16.2 per 100 000 among females (+1925%)."

Now those numbers are per year. So the increased risk for every Belarussian citizen (exposed or not) to get thyroid cancer over the lifespan of, say 50 years, might be estimated to be (3.5-0.4)*50/1e5 = 0.155% (males) or (16.2-0.8)*50/1e5 = 0.81% (females). Compare that with the 0.02 % increase cited by Lewis for the especially affected youngsters.

Making up numbers is bad science; trash in -> trash out. Please replace the "physics" label with "propaganda" or get your numbers from a more trustworthy dealer.

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Pint

So THAT is why!

I have been wondering about these URLs for months. I actually thought it was a weird random bug in the web site.

Thank you for the explanation, good sir. Have a cold one.

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Re: README

I always wondered what was going on there. I assumed that it was some secret thing that I wasn't privy to, it's nice to know it's just people being dumber than even I am . . .

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WTF?

Statistics

> Now those numbers are per year. So the increased risk for every Belarussian citizen (exposed or not)...

No. It's good to bring numbers in, but you can't assume that the instance across the whole population per year can be multiplied by average life expectancy to get the probability of getting cancer during an average life.

According to the UN, the annual death rate in Belarus is around 15 per 1000, so your equations would give the average Belarussian a 75% chance of ever dieing.

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Boffin

Re: Statistics

Ok, here's some numbers: nuclear power plant core damage frequency is usually estimated at around 5x10^-5 /year, on one accident every 20,000 years. Some estimates from manufacturers for newer designs are much better than that, getting as low as 3x10^-8 /year. Doesn't sound bad, does it? These are risks, I believe, calculated for equipment failure, not human error.

Declaration of bias: I'll henceforth use the number given by regulators, rather than that given by manufacturers. I'm not presenting an exact calculation, just a rough estimate based on publicly available numbers.

So, one accident every 20,000 years. Per plant. There are now worldwide 440 commercial power plants. That's one accident every 40 years. If you include research reactors and nuclear ships and submarines, that roughly doubles the numbers. There's an additional 60 nuclear power plants under construction, 150 planned and 320 under proposal. So in the foreseeable future, we can expect somewhere in the region of 1500 nuclear reactors. One accident every 14 years or so.

Conclusion: nuclear power plants, individually, are safe. The one in your neighbourhood will typically have an accident every 20,000 years, nothing to worry about unless you have a tendency to be paranoid. Worldwide, you can expect a future with a nuclear accident or two per generation. Acceptable risk? Not for me, thanks.

I first did this calculation yesterday. Up to then, I was inclined to think of nuclear power as a minor risk, and of the anti-nuclear crowd has mostly people afraid of something they don't understand, and reacting out of that fear. Now, I'm firmly on the anti-nuclear side.

(Risk is calculated as follows: for a risk of p per plant and n plants, combined risk is not n*p, but rather p*sum(1-p)^i, from i=0..n-1; the calculation is left as an exercise for the reader. The difference is small for n<<1/p, as in this case)

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Re

"But the accompanying panic has become a story in its own right, threatening to harm millions and shift government policies disastrously."

Threating to harm millions by government policy... sounds like Global Warming all over again.

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@noons

So... using your figures, there will be a nuclear accident every 14 years... And how many people will die due to that?

Significantly more people will die having a shit on the toilet. So perhaps we should ban toilets?

In fact if we blocked the hole that you shit out of then the world would be a much better place because we would not hear you any more.

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Boffin

You forgot somethign in your calculations

What qualifies as an accident? Obviously, Three Mile Island, Chrenobyl, and the Fukushima plant are accidents. How about other plant accidents - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents#List_of_accidents_at_nuclear_power_plants

Of those 19 accidents listed, only four have associated deaths; many of them are simply plant shutdowns due to malfunctions - no radiation release, no deaths, etc.

Now, if an "accident", as used in your calculations, includes accidents with no deaths and/or no radiation released into the atmosphere, and if the number of accidents that do release radiation roughly follow history, then we could expect a rough average of 3 or 4 deaths per accident. If said accidents occur once every 14 years, then there will be less than one death every four years due to nuclear energy accidents.

Nuclear accidents are just like airplane accidents - one problem gets a huge story, but overall, the effects are far smaller than the competition - driving kills far more people per year than flying, just as coal - and even wind and solar - kill more people per year than nuclear. Your calculations should root you even more firmly on the pro-nuclear side...

And, for more death-comparing fun, Google for "deaths per terawatt-hour".

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anonymous of course

You might make a good point but by being such a jackoff and the hole you speak of above you undermine your own argument.

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@ArmanX

You're right, I should have been more explicit in what I meant with the word accident. Since I'd just been looking it up the day before, it was clear to me than when I mentioned core damage frequency, I was talking about serious shit, not just a light bulb failing. So here's what my calculation is about:

"Core damage frequency (CDF) is a term used in probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) that indicates the likelihood of an accident that would cause damage to a nuclear reactor core. Core damage accidents are considered serious because damage to the core may prevent control of the nuclear reaction, which can lead to a nuclear meltdown."

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_damage_frequency)

And no, core damage accidents are not "just like airplane accidents". In an airplane crash, there's no fallout: the passengers are affected, and maybe a few more people on the ground. It has a comparatively restricted extent. Some fuel may leak onto to the ground near the crash. A core damage can affect hugely larger numbers of people over a much, much larger area than an airplane crash would. It takes many years rather than a few weeks for effects to subside.

I'll state it clearly: I'm not part of the NIMBY brigade. In fact, I wouldn't oppose a nuclear power plant being built in my backyard out of fear it'll explode. I'd probably be ok living next to one - not planning to move there any time soon, though. It's the accumulated worldwide risk in the foreseeable future that I find unacceptable. In Japan, the prevailing winds westerly winds blow fallout towards the Pacific, and sun-worshipers in California probably won't notice any increase in radiation levels. But a core damage with fall out in, say, India - that is the stuff of nightmares...

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Flame

Oh fuck off Lewis.

It was not a minor incident. I know it gives you a military hardon to be the guy who puts us morons in our place about the realities of nuclear power, but calling this a minor incident doesn't make you look clever, it makes you look really fucking stupid.

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Troll

Your lead hat

has crushed your brain.

Proof that you don't need to look on the roads to find an utter anus.

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Oh fuck off Duncan.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a minor incident. It took the media's attention from the real human tragedy and loss of life. Telling Lewis, who has been one of the the few jouro's to actually report the facts on this *minor incident*, to fuck off makes you look like a know-it-all that hasn't read the science and wouldn't undersatnd it if he did, but insists on telling the world and their neighbour their "expert opinion" based on what their mate down the pub had heard on the BBC "news" channel... Wait a minute! Are you really James Delingpole?!

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Your talking rubbish

Its muppets like YOU downplaying this event that get people killed. learn to shut your mouth about things you have no nothing about. So dissopointed by the reg for letting this CRAP be published on this website. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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@AnotherNetNarcissist

Here's the thing. I don't disagree that it took the media's attention away from the real tragedy. I'm perfectly capable of recognising that some of the reporting around this has been alarmist and unhelpful. I haven't made any claims about my expertise, nor based any of my stated view on what anyone told me in the pub. And I'm not James Delingpole.

None of that takes away from the fact that this was not a minor incident. These 6 reactors were hit by a 9.0 earthquake followed by a major tsunami, and three failover cooling systems failed in succession leading to helicopter drops of seawater, radiation leaks and sizeable explosions.

It may be an incident with far less significance than some have claimed; it certainly should not have been the biggest story emanating from Japan. But it's not a minor incident and calling it that was an exercise in journalistic willy-waving.

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Stop

SHOUTING

doesn't make you big, nor clever. It does annoy people however.

Feel free to post like that on the daily mail web site though. You'll fit in.

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Headmaster

Grow up, won't you?

Ah, it's great to hear challenges like those from Duncan and Stefan that rebut Lewis's thesis with strong and well thought-out arguments, rather than spewing vitriol with no real content <\sarcasm>

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Pint

Oh James...

A backslash in a closing tag? Really? Dear me.

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Boffin

Bananas

Increased radiation received by the population more than 20km away from the damaged reactors at Fukujima Daiichi reactor complex was less than that caused by the ingestion of one banana per day! However, the radiation right outside the main gate into the reactor complex at the height of the problems there was 1.530 millisieverts per hour, equivalent to the 20% of the radiation received in one full body CT scan. This means that to exceed one’s annual safe dose under these conditions, one could not spend more than 30 hours standing at the gate under these conditions.

Next to and within the damaged reactor building, radiation levels reached a maximum of 400 millisieverts per hour, but that decreased to 12 millisieverts per hour in the day following the explosions. Then, an unshielded person could not be able to spend more than 4 hours within the building before leaving, never to return to the building because they would exceed their annual dose limit (50 millisieverts). However, since the water injection commenced, this has dropped to 0.6 millisieverts per hour, meaning that work times for unshielded individuals within the building cannot exceed 80 hours.

Natural background radiation at sea level is of the order of 2 millisieverts per year, with this doubling for every 300m increase in altitude. People living at a distance greater than 1km from the reactor complex main gate, received no increase in radiation beyond what one would get if they lived on top of a 300m mountain. In places more than 20km distant, for example, Tokyo, however, the banana eaters would have caused a very local increase in radiation background: radiation in Tokyo has stayed at natural background levels.

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FoTW checklist:

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Your talking rubbish

Its muppets like YOU downplaying this event that get people killed. learn to shut your mouth about things you have no nothing about. So dissopointed by the reg for letting this CRAP be published on this website. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Dodgy punctuation - Check

Random capitalisation - Check

Eccentric grammar - Check

Bizarre attack on author - Check

Sense of barely controlled rage, but not enough for a 2nd paragraph - 50%

CAPS LOCK - Fail

Good effort there stefan 5, if only you hadn't managed to keep your caps lock key mostly off, and had managed to surf the waves of bile for another couple of paragraphs - you'd have earned your very own FoTW... Better luck next time.

I'm still struggling to see how Lewis can get anyone killed, just by writing a few articles. I thought that all he did in the Navy was to keep ships pointed in vaguely the right direction, and try to stop things blowing up.

I hadn't realised he was a News Ninja...

Flames. Obviously...

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Headmaster

Really fucking stupid?

NO U!

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FoTW?

Or troll of the week? You decide...

I'm not entirely sure whether the comment in question was intended as irony, or as an exercise in applying as many clichés and stereotypes in as short a stream of invective as possible.

I, for one, will never fall for bait like that!!111!!11eleventyone!!

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Anonymous Coward

@Duncan...

All the points you make are fair points, but I disagree with the main. There trouble is that there has been an awful lot of misdirection in the press about this incident and they really have blown things out of all sensible proportion. I don't think it was innocent either. What was the BBC's remit again? To entertain and educate; too much of the former and not enough of the latter! Rather than do what Lewis has tried to do on these pages, the media at large has gone down the Fox/Sky news route and sensationalise things Hollywood style. As I said; and the opening is critical; *in the grand scheme of things* Fukushima was a minor incident. It has just had the lions share of the medias attention. I would still rather live near a Nuclear station that a fossil fuel powered one, which isn't really a choice in the UK.

The point I was trying to make was that there was a lot of caterwauling going from commenters and media alike that haven't really taken the time to understand what was *actually* happening and far to quick to go down the disaster B-movie route. For a start a 9.0Mw earthquake is unprecedented in the nuclear age. That they were doing well before an equally unprecedented tsunami struck is testament to the engineers that designed the plant. The rest was shit luck. Had this occurred without the quake, then I think your view would be more appropriate, as it stands, this is a footnote to the story that is one of the largest quakes in recorded human history.

So willy waving or not, I can't help but feel that your initial name calling was harsh; hence my response. I'm sure Lewis is a big enough and ugly enough to look after himself, mind.

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@Duncan's second post

"and three failover cooling systems failed in succession leading to helicopter drops of seawater, radiation leaks and sizeable explosions."

No, the "three failover" part is completely wrong. There's only 1 "cooling system." The primary power was lost, and the secondary backup power, the generators, were flooded. The THIRD form of power (batteries) worked PERFECTLY. They ran for 8 hours until they ran out of juice. During that time, mobile generators had been brought it, as the fourth source of power, but their "plugs" wouldn't fit.

As for helicopter drops of seawater, that was for the cooling pools. The actual reactor core had seawater pumped through the normal cooling system. No helicopter drops for that. This seawater coolant, that needed to be vented due to steam buildup, had impurities which increased the likelihood of additional radiation, not to mention the very short-lived radioisotopes that were carried on the steam.

The explosions were probably the worst of what happened, causing 14 injuries. However, with water super-heating, one tends to get a breakdown of it's molecular components: hydrogen and oxygen. They hydrogen is what exploded.

It's a shame that these fanatics and "willy-waving" commentards don't even have correct information and simply spout off their sound bytes in a semi-coherent, although highly distorted, form.

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" one tends to get a breakdown............ hydrogen and oxygen"

NO! Not again ! One does not !

Water reacting with hot zirconium of the fuel rod assemblies to generate hydrogen

The thermodynamics of water are almost totally in the direction of water unless the temperatures are VERY high.

Think - what does a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen do when you apply a match

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Boffin

In agreement - ish.

'None of that takes away from the fact that this was not a minor incident. These 6 reactors were hit by a 9.0 earthquake followed by a major tsunami, and three failover cooling systems failed in succession leading to helicopter drops of seawater, radiation leaks and sizeable explosions'

All of which led to absolutely not a lot of anything happening, the incredible story here should have been, that 40 year old reactors did not explode and spew mountains of radiation, concrete, death dealing death rays, sharks with lasers all over the world.

Instead, all the media has focussed on (and to a lesser degree our industrious EU overlords) is the danger, the absolute nightmare, the horrendous death and destruction caused by the nuclear disaster. Wait, what nuclear disaster, there has not been a nuclear disaster, there has though been a massive natural disaster, with 8,000+ dead people and rising. However that does not get much coverage any more. Why? Because of the sharks with lasers and the death dealing.......

That is what is frustrating.

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@Ammaross Danan

Thanks for the clarity on the cooling systems; my shorthand wasn't intended to be misleading. And thanks for the further information/speculation on other incidents. I have one question: given your description would you seriously call this a "minor" incident? That is my sole point.

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Boffin

@Duncan again...

I suppose the real question is whether or not the media attention that Fukushima garnered was warranted. It was an incident. Wheteher or not it was minor or not is actually relevant and it now seems that you are pissed off that some people disagree with your opinion. Quite a few people, it turns out, knew and understood the science and didn't panic. Theyignored the media and some even tried to explain what we understood but got shouted down but panicked individuals who thought the sky was falling in. Again. Which is exactly what Lewis was doing. Was it a minor incident. Yes! It turned out, as quite a few of us tried to say, that it was.

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Minor vs Major

Major incident:

Deaths: 9,408

Missing: 14,700

Homeless: 500,000

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12825342)

Minor Incident:

Deaths: 1

Missing: 2

Homeless: N/A

(that we know about anyway)

No matter what the _potential_ might have been the actual effects of the natural disasters, the earthquake and resulting Tsunami, on the nuclear power plant have been minor - very minor.

Rant/ troll all you like, but the facts speak for themselves - nuclear power is safe, even in situations that are way beyond what were anticipated when the system was designed, let alone built.

This is a non-story, the story is that people seem to be expecting things to be worse than they are, even those people that should know better.

It would be nice if everyone had a good standard of education, realised that newspapers and news organisations are desperate for attention and had a healthy level of skepticism.

ttfn

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@AnotherNetNarcissist

I think it's well established that the extent of the media attention garnered was not warranted. I'm delighted to agree that many people understood the science and ignored the doom-mongers. And of course the assessment of whether anything is major or minor is subjective, so on one level this all just hot air.

I guess my feeling is this: over 100,000 people were evacuated; emergency action resulted in permanent shutdown of at least three reactors; estimates say it will cost at least $5 billion to recover; and the loss of generating capacity has caused blackouts in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. If that's a minor incident, what in the name of fuck is a major one?

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Stop

"If that's a minor incident, what in the name of fuck is a major one?"

You are over dramatising things *exactly* as the mass media did! The answer to your question is simple; a 9.0Mw earthquake and a massive tsunami is a major incident. The fact that nearly 9000 ordinary people, like you and me, lost their lives is a major incident. That half a million people need re-housing is a major incident. Fukushima, as I said earlier is but a footnote.

The 6 reactors, as was widley reported, were due to commence decomissioning. The blackouts have as much to do with the fact that there was a fucking *mahoosive* earthquake just about 2 weeks ago and the infrastructure still needs reparing nationwide. The tap water in Tokyo isn't great for littlle kids at the moment and that is almost certainly related to the power station, however, it's still a minor note. I put it too you that you got caught up in the melodrama perpetuated by news agencies and aren't looking at the bigger picture, as demonstrated by your "but it is though" responses. See Paul_Murphy's comment, above.

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@AnotherNetNarcissist

You keep missing my point. I'm not making a comparison between this incident and the earthquake and tsunami which caused it. You are, but I am not. My question over the term "minor incident" is not comparative between those two. Okay? So please stop telling me that the earthquake was a major incident and that that therefore somehow proves that the reactor problems were a minor one. It doesn't follow at all.

I'm not caught up in any melodrama. I'm saying that when I look at what happened at Fukushima, I don't call it a minor incident. I'm also saying that the reason that description was there is that El Reg got carried away with the narrative it has been pushing on this story since it happened. I'm all for rational, calm and expert views on this. Calling this a minor incident is not rational. It's gone far too far the other way. And I believe it was done for shock value to prove the size of Mr Page's journalistic cojones, because he loves being the Bringer Of Truth and the Slayer of Hysteria.

I think he got it wrong. So do a lot of other people. That's not an over-dramatisation, it's just my opinion.

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Yes!

We have a clear leader for flame of the week.

Random caps - check

Deranged ranting- check

Fact-free message content - check

Slightly less coherence would have been good, but a sterling effort overall. Well ranted, that man!

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Spoken like a true Publican, Bullseyed

If you're referring to one of the two major US Political Parties, founded by Jefferson & Madison, it's called the "Democratic" party.

Though certainly the Fukoshima disaster is not nearly as tragic as it might have been, the fact remains that nuclear is one of the few contending energy sources we currently use which is inherently dangerous -- on the best of days. Blue sky scenarios for nukes don't address one critical question: what to do with the waste products? Add earthquakes, tsunami, terrorists, human cock-ups, etc. and it seems we have a prescription for a real catastrophe.

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Anonymous Coward

Perchance ...

... do you mean The Democratic Party? If you can't even get a simple name right ...

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It's not a matter of not getting it right...

...it's getting it wrong on purpose.

Democrat can be made to sound like an epithet much more easily than Democratic.

Which is why several years ago the Republicans and right-wingers began to deliberately use a noun where they should be using an adjective.

Well, that, and because that whole sounding slightly uneducated thing appeals subliminally to their base, kind of like when Republican candidates suddenly start wearing work clothes and driving pickup trucks during their campaigns.

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Go

Fair enough...

I take your point, but respectfully disagree (I know, it's the internet...). You *cannot* separate the two. Ask your self what the likelihood of the Fukushima station failing *without* the tsunami was? Let's not forget that it survived the 9.0Mw quake relatively intact. The answer is simply "No." One must follow the other. No quake, no tsunami, no Fukushima incident. It would be fair to say that Fukushima was *part* of a major incident, but not on it's own, especially since "disaster" was mitigated. Had the core gone into meltdown, then perhaps you'd have a point. I agree with you in as much that had this happened *without* the quake and tsunami, then we would have had a potential major incident on our hands.Potential? Yes, because at the end of it all, there was no catastrophic failure or meltdown. *Everything* is relative. By all means have a go at Mr Page, but I think he called it right. Besides, given the media hysteria and melodrama surrounding the whole sorry affair, I think we can allow Lewis a little hubris.

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Politics...

Has got fuck all to do with this kids. Leave it at the door.

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Nuclear reactors are NOT safe!

> Homeless: N/A

Paul Murphy, you are guilty of downplaying this calamitous situation.

You have incorrectly claimed that the nuclear incident at Fukushima has rendered "N/A" people homeless. We actually know that over 100,000 people have been rendered homeless by the explosions and radioactive particle releases at Fukushima.

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Paris Hilton

Let's have a party at Lewis' house this weekend

Because there's no consequence to being booted out of your house, I've decided that Lewis is moving 20km away from home this afternoon (taking Iodine tablets as he goes). We won't tell him if/when he can come back, and we're going to tip all his milk and spinach away too. But the empty beer cans, used condoms and cigarette ends stamped into the carpet will all be below the levels known to cause problems to human health.

By the way, I must say Lewis, I did like your description of 100mSv/a as the 'reduced' limit. Does anyone know if leaking reactors emit chutzpah?

There are probably lots of good arguments to be made for reviewing all sorts of radiological protection limits, it's just that dramatically increasing them while you're in breach of the current ones makes you look a bit desperate...

(Paris, because she can always move into a hotel when the government evacuate her house)

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Re: consequences

People being booted out of their houses and not knowing when they can come back and/or in what state the house will be is a fairly normal condition after this sort of quake+tsunami event. The point is that if the reactor had never been built, the end result for the population would have been pretty much the same.

That's why the eco-hysteria is bad, because not building nuclear reactors doesn't have any measurable advantage in terms of health or safety - if a megaquake hits, you're screwed *anyway*, because *it's a freakin' megaquake*. You're very likely to have to leave your home anyway, possibly for months. The reactor doesn't make it significantly worse - hell, nothing can, except maybe a chemical factory or storage. The only thing you get by building a coal plant instead is a higher power bill, a whole bunch of deaths-per-year on your conscience (but they're chinese miners, so who cares, right?), and a measurably higher risk of cancer from its regular operation.

By the way, in other parts of the country, nuclear plants are actually providing shelter to people who *really* lost their homes (as in "they're destroyed", not in "got to stay in a hotel for a few weeks"). There are still significant quakes going on, and the nuclear plants are the safest place to be.

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Sorry?

According to the IAEA, just one individual has had more than 100mSV exposure.

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Flame

Circular argument in progress...

You might as well say it was a minor tsunami, because people would still have been moved out of their houses if a major radiological event had happened.

Lewis says "effects on the public look set to be nil", which is just bollocks - being indefinitely evacuated from your house is not 'nil', even if it doesn't imply you're going to suffer some radiation-caused disease. You could have chosen to build a nice strong house on top of a hill, but you'd have still been moved out by the events at the power-station.

I'm not anti-nuclear *at all*, and I even rather liked Lewis' writing prior to last week, but I've read every Tepco and IAEA report since the quake (neither party having any interest in exaggerating the problem), and I don't think they align well with Lewis' output.

The pompous frothing of a Register Hack about journalists exaggerating for effect is also pretty irksome to read. If he really had a serious problem with that, he certainly wouldn't work for El Reg.

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Flame

Re: circular argument

Er, what? If the natural disaster had not happened, you wouldn't have had the radiological event. There is no scenario in which the nuclear plant makes the situation much worse, because the nuclear accident was caused by the quake, and the quake had people out of their houses or outright homeless anyway. I don't see how that is a circular argument: the chain of cause and effect is crystal clear. If you had to leave your house in Japan in mid-March 2011, the reason was almost certainly the quake or the tsunami, not the radiological event.

On top of that, the nuclear accident will only keep you out of your house for a few weeks, after which it will be exactly the same as it was before the nuclear accident, while the quake or tsunami can raze it to the ground, or deal massive damage and make it require major work before it is safe again. A rad evacuee is lucky compared to lots of people in northern Japan.

Yeah, getting evacuated sucks, but my point is that *in the context of a quake+tsunami* the nuclear event is very minor no matter how you cut it. Also, you can't consider it outside of that context, because it shares the same cause - there's no accident without the quake.

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Silver badge

A Public Appology

Over the course of the unfolding situation at Fukushima I have criticized Mr Page's stance.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize.

It would appear that Mr Page was correct in his assessment of the situation.

John

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