The total non-story of the Fukushima nuclear powerplant "disaster" – which has seen and will see no deaths or measurable health consequences for anyone anywhere – has received a shot in the arm today with the news that Japanese authorities have upgraded the incident to a Level 7 on the nuclear accident scale. This was reported …
The title is required, and must not contain ionizing radiation.
"which has seen and will see no deaths or measurable health consequences for anyone anywhere"....
Apart from these ones I guess: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/123762/20110317/iaea-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-japan-nuclear-caualties.htm
Seriously El Reg, it seems this author does have a bit of an agenda to push.
I just read that article you linked to, and it says pretty much exactly what Lewis was saying; some people working at the plant received low level exposure which was assessed as not being a risk to their health, or who are being assessed to ensure that it isn't. No word of dangerous levels of exposure or any radiation sickness, the symptoms of which, after all, are rather obvious. Remind me again, who has an agenda to push?
@AC - Did you even read that link?
25 people injured (no deaths) in non-radiological incidents. Not a surprise considering they're working stupid numbers of hours, round-the-clock, in a devastated area, under huge amounts of time pressure and often in restrictive safety gear.
20 people with radiological contamination (plus some firemen who were 'decontaminated'), of whom 17 weren't even taken to hospital as the level was so low, 2 were decontaminated, leaving ONE with 'significant exposure'. Given how insignificant 'significant' seems to be in these cases, I'd say you've backed Lewis's assertion up pretty well.
D- must try harder.
Did you read the ***** article?
He mentioned those.
To re-iterate: Not a single person has died or is likely to as the result of the worst conceivable disaster (category 7) at a nuclear power plant. Some people died cos of an earthquake. And a Tsunami. Yet the health effects from radiation are nil. Zilch. Absolutely nothing.
Its morons like you who have the agenda to push. Because of luddite, nimby cretins like yourself the rest of the world has to live with the far more serious consequences of powering our lives by burning fossil fuels.
Lewis is quite right. Nuclear power is already the only viable solution. If we apply the same safety requirements as other power generation industries then it would be incredibly cheap as well.
Just wake up.
17 people suffered from deposition of radioactive material to their faces...
"..but were not taken to the hospital because of low levels of exposure"
Thanks for the link, it's a great resource to battle the "myths" that it's "the end of the world".
Re: AC 14:08 GMT
I read the article you linked to and I can't see any deaths. Any speculation about the "One worker [who] suffered from significant exposure during 'vent work,' and was transported to an offsite center" would be just that - speculation. The 17 people who were exposed to radioactive material to their faces weren't even taken to hospital because there was no need. 2 policemen exposed were decontaminated, again no mention of hospital. Firemen who were exposed are under investigation, no mention of hospital or any subsequent health risk again.
The only measurable health consequences I can see are a couple of months sitting down for the guy with broken legs which can hardly be attributable to radiation (unless the particles were especially large). The 2 people who were suddenly 'taken ill' were more likely to have been suffering from shock due to all the scaremongering rather than anything radiation-linked.
So who was it you were saying had the agenda?
The radiation was so strong it broke one guy's legs!
Radiation is like a swan, perhaps?
You have in mind the Swan of Tuonela, the Island of the Dead?
If so, you would be under the spell of both Sibelius (Op.22) and Rachmaninoff (Op.29) - as entrancingly lethal a combination as you could wish for in the musical spheres (not to mention the dialectical/historical/face/offs).
In the elemental spheres, as Vlad (the Semantic Impaler) has brilliantly observed, the Fear of Nuclear is the fear of _not_ dying naturally, i.e. the fear of not dying by air or water or earth or fire (i.e. from an insufficiency or preponderance of one or other). The eco-fear of radiation is just the fear of dying from light - the Fear of Light.
Or, as amanfromMars might put it - the fear of NUclear. (Or did you never manage to parse that, even tho IT shows you on the face of IT how to do IT?)
speaking of agendas
it seems you read the headline of the article you linked to then raced to post it here, probably wetting yourself in excitement. Because if you had actually stopped to read it you would have noticed it doesn't do your point of view any favours.
You've shown yourself to have an agenda of pushing fear and you've helped Lewis make his point. I bet you were a real tiger on the debating team at school eh?
pertinent facts only please
Non-nuclear casualties DON'T COUNT you muppet, there were a few minor injuries... did you forget the mega-quake that had just happened? It strikes me that the nuclear power plant seems to be a fairly safe place to weather an earthquake and a tsunami in!
You make a good point about pollutants.
Does anyone know how much Mercury, Cadmium and other pollutants have been released?
As an aside though -- I'd love to hear from the author why people haven't gone back to Pripyat and why people in the surrounding areas of Chernobyl are finding that there are more instances of children with congenital deformities. Are we being lied to about this or something?
If not, then I suggest that suggesting Chernobyl wasn't a large-scale disaster is a little stupid.
A friend of mine went to Pripyat on holiday a few years ago, he has some nice piccies of the deserted town on Facebook.
"I'd love to hear from the author why people haven't gone back to Pripyat"
Because instead of the nasty ratty 1970's houses of a 'government city', they got to live in the nicer, newer houses in Slavutych built in the public eye, in another government city, where the jobs that were in Pripyat are now.
Possibly because the houses haven't been maintained for 25 years and are in a terrible state (and have been vandalised). Perhaps because it's officially in the 'zone of alienation' and no-one is allowed to live there, there are armed guards all around, and visitors (tourists)have to have a guide to ensure no-one takes anything away.
Do that answer things?
I know that a sea survey about to be done in the area because the NERC staff involved didn't fancy having to clear wrecked houses (potentially with bodies in) out of the way in their deep-sea survey area. There also was a good amount of concern that all the pollutants washed off the land would make the survey pointless.
Professor Gerry Thomas, who worked on the health effects of Chernobyl for Unscear, tells me that there is “absolutely no evidence” for an increase in birth defects(12). The National Academy paper which Dr Caldicott urged me to read came to similar conclusions. It found that radiation-induced mutation in sperm and eggs is such a small risk “that it has not been detected in humans, even in thoroughly studied irradiated populations such as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”(13)
Mercury, cadmium etc.
Do you mean from Fukushima, or as a result of Tsunami damage overall?
If it's the former, I can tell you - none.
One thing that's striking about this accident is how little radioactive material other than Iodine and Caesium has been released - something which suggests that contrary to the exaggerated fears of the earlier days, it's unlikely actual uranium fuel (as opposed to fuel rod cladding) melted.
However, and awful lot will have been released through othertsunami-related incidents. You'd better hope no fly-ash tips from coal stations have been washed away, because they'll have put a few hundred tonnes of uranium, thorium and radon into the envoronment.
It's also fascinating the way the myths cling on. According to UNSCEAR, there's no increase in deformitiesaround Chernobyl.
This is from a journalist friend of mine
Called Stefan Korshak who lives and works in Kiev. Bear in mind, he's a journalist, not a scientist :
Well if that's not a lead in I don't know what is. As it just happens, I just recently was in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, as periodic (get it?) visits to that place fall into my job description.
Yes the area underneath the Sarcophagus is incredibly irradiated, and will be so for some ridiculous time frame like thousands or millions of years, I forget exactly. True if you find moss or mushrooms somewhere you can get a Geiger counter to click right merrily. But it's not like the surface of Venus, the Zone's atmosphere isn't poisonous, and in most locations the radiation levels are the same as 200 km. to the south, opposite where the radioactive cloud blew. I'm told that you get more dangerous radiation lying on a beach in Turkey on a sunny day, than standing next to the Sarcophagus - again, and assuming you don't go inside of it.
There are without question some nasty half-lives on some of the isotopes in there, but as the scientists explained it to me, when thinking about how dangerous it is in the Zone you have to take Mother Nature into account. Basically, and generally speaking, a quarter-century of rain and erosion has washed a great deal of the worst hot elements into the water drainage system, where it has to a substantial extent settled and/or been silted over. I'm told the water itself in most places won't get a peep out of a Geiger counter, although it's a big territory and a lot of swamp, who can say for sure?
A simple indicator of how drainage helps control radiation are the Rad levels on the roads vs. the forest edges on either side of them. It's sort of a given the radiation on the roads is absolutely normal, while on the sides in the forest it can be five time higher and already dangerous in the same way as a tooth X-Ray is dangerous, a short exposure is no big deal but constantly over months or years and you're asking for cancer. Which makes the Zone a fairly safe place to visit, while keeping it basically uninhabitable.
The terrain is forest and fields and most of the time, if you aren't looking at abandoned villages, it's quite pretty. Very thick underbrush, lots of water, waist- and even chest-high grass in the old farm fields.
The scientists (unfortunately, because wouldn't be cool if there were) have found almost no mutants over the years as pretty much whatever the radiation mutated died at birth or shortly thereafter - this is Nature, after all. There is tons of wildlife and since only plant engineers and security and the odd thrill seeker actually goes into the Zone, and of them only a tiny percentage ever leaves the roads, the whole place is pretty much a huge nature refuge. Wolves, foxes, eagles, bison, etc. etc. I heard a rumor that even bears are coming back, they're already in Belarus. There used to be looters going into regularly, but it sort of tailed off after the new century, pretty much everything that could be stolen is long gone now.
The cooling ponds near the Sarcophagus - you know, where the spent fuel rods get parked like at Fukushima - are just filled with goldfish/carp, and big ones, I'm talking the size of your arm some of them. There is always the joke the radiation made them that way, but to hear the biologists explain it, it's just Nature doing its thing, the cooling ponds are big and flat and shallow and open and they're pretty much perfect conditions for bug larvae and whatever else carp like to eat, no natural predators and no humans either, the station crews don't fish for them because you can't eat them, see above on radiation in the sediment.
The problem with repopulating a place like Chernobyl is, I am told, not that the whole place is irradiated and hot, but rather that some spots are and some of the spots move with time, and change in degree, and keeping track of it is a major main and get it wrong and people really and truly could get hurt. Further, the place is really swampy and wet, this is the Pripet Marsh basically, so even if you cleaned up the buildings and the land, there is still the problem of the water table - again, within the realm of human capacity but not cheap or easy.
One of the engineers explained it to me this way "It's not like we couldn't decontaminate the place and repopulate the abandoned villages, it's technically possible. But our country is poor and we have plenty of land outside the Zone that isn't developed, so unless you're trying to prove something there's really no point in trying to make the Zone inhabitable. Doesn't make sense financially."
Another thing to remember is, at any given time something like 1,000 people are in the Zone living there 24/7, they're either engineers or scientists or guards or whatever, and they spend two weeks in and two weeks out. They say it's safe work, but they get paid pretty well by Ukrainian standards.
Thanks for dispelling the myth, seems I was wrong.
Thanks for letting me know about the mutations -- I had read that somewhere, but I'll accept the fact it was a myth.
As for Pripyat, as far as I can see the areas of the exclusion zone are still thought to be contaminated, so while I'm sure not everywhere in the zone is "OMG Deadly!!" it is still an exclusion zone -- so that's a pretty major impact. The reason I mentioned the town was that it must have cost a pretty penny to abandon, which would make it pretty disastrous financially if nothing else.
I was referring to the pollutants released by other industry -- like battery makers and the like. I would expect pollutants other than those from the plants to be of far more concern.
This "disaster" does seem to be a good advert for the potential safety of nuclear power.
Sod the mercury
Sod the mercury. Rare earths, organo-silicon compounds and all kinds of exotic stuff which is used in semiconductor, LCD, etc manufacturing is way more dangerous.
As far as Pripiat and Chernobyl itself it is a different story. There the reactor burned and spread other fission products with considerably longer half-life than Iodine in very large concentration in the surrounding area. An example is the Ru-106 which is also known as "nightmare of the radioactive waste treatment engineer". No matter what separation technique you apply the bloody thing always ends up being present in most fractions so no way to clean it. You can only wait until it decays and it has a halflife of about a year so you have to wait decades for that. Fukushima has managed to avoid most of this.
To be fair, Anton,
Ruthenium's a fairly minor fission product at the best of times, and no-one in their right mind is about to be reprocessing fuel until a decade or two after it's come out of the reactor.
But the main point's valid (and seems to reinforce TMI experience). It's actually quite hard to get fuel hot enough such that you get the truly difficult stuff out if there's any cooling at all. Iodine and caesium are the buggers.
Siemens quits, says enough. The party is over :-)
Siemens AG (SI: 134.71 -2.73 -1.99%) has sold its stake in a joint venture to build nuclear power plants with Areva for €1.62 billion ($2.3 billion). The company sold its 34% stake on March 18 to Areva SA, which owns the remaining 66%.
Siemens needs the cash..
Siemens doesn't have a viable answer to the pebble reactor plants that are now very much coming up as the safe way to use nuclear energy (the "pebbles" are self- regulating so you could even remove cooling altogether without getting into trouble)..
Ergo, getting out when the excuses are so much better than the reality is IMHO a sensible idea.
Don't even bother Lewis
Rational arguments only work on the educated.
Any retard can be afraid.
I've been educated in all this Nuclear malarkey, and even I was surprised when QI told of 'the luckiest man ever', or when I read about some of the early nuclear experiments (like the demon core that went critical in labs twice, before it was eventually used in a weapon at Bikini Atol, presumably to get rid of the curded thing)
But, what you won't do is convince people it's safe. Even when you point out that the Queen was handed a big chunk of Uranium in the 1950's just in a plastic bag ("see how it's warm, your Majesty") and she's not exactly dead yet. Or point out that there's still 500 people living in Chernobyl (the town) and you can take guided tours there, and you'd get treated like you've put your pants on your head.
This is what has happened with the dumbing down of education, 'to be fair to the laz-er I mean 'disadvantaged pupil''
Gosh the god squad are out in force today
Educated, i don't think so, sure that means understanding how little you know.
Yes there is some data that suggests that radiation may be good for you, part of the problem is that it's not so easily controlled and we just don't know.
Do you really think the exclusion zone is not a problem, might it make the fixing of the huge problems they have take a little longer.
And make these blighted peoples lives a little harder.
Lewis is really becoming an embarrasment on this one, yes we need much more research into nuclear but these things are only for making nukes - never a serious attempt to make energy.
There, you are now educated.
Rational arguments don't work for unforseen or irrational eventualities
Don't exclude irrational absurdities.
Famous last engineering words - "The problem was misconstrued. It was an unforeseen eventuality."
Ignorance is not the same as stupidity; ignorance is curable
For those of you who have tired of the largely fact-free editorials and posts about Fukushima Daiichi which have blemished The Register for the past month, I suggest the following:
1.) An article in the IEEE Spectrum, the leading publication of electrical engineers in the U.S., which both explains the INES rating system and the reasons, in the publication's opinion, that the new rating is correct. http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/energy/nuclear/fukushima-accident-upgraded-to-severity-level-7
2.) The extensive coverage in the Spectrum of every aspect of the Daiichi failure. This coverage is fully the equal of the work the journal did with respect to Three Mile Island, which was stellar. Among the articles is an explanation of why Japan's electrical grid design makes sending power from underutilized generators to the Tokyo area problematic. The home page for this coverage is http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/energy/nuclear/fukushima-accident-upgraded-to-severity-level-7
3) The 26 Mar NRC "threat assessment" of Daiichi, which may be found on many sites. http://www.fairewinds.com/content/nrc-report-official-use-only-fukushima-assessment-march-26th-2011
4.) The early April (dated 7 Apr on page 2) Areva "The Fukushima Daiichi Incident" Powerpoint which gives Areva's assessment. Areva has been heavily involved with servicing Daiichi long before the "incident." http://www.fairewinds.com/content/3-2011-areva-fukushima-report
While you're at the Fairewind site, you might profit from a look at the narrations of the missing water in fuel pond 4 and the demonstration of the effects of overheating on fuel rods.
5.) Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, has a special section on Daiichi which includes information not found in Spectrum. Well worth reading. http://www.nature.com/news/specials/japanquake/index.html
A few hours spent with this rigorously scientific material will make you far better informed than all of The Register's Daiichi articles and posts. The same material should also lead, if you are rational, to a far more nuanced set of opinions than have been displayed, for the most part, in The Register.
Finally, two current and significant quotes from well-informed and highly-placed nuclear energy authorities which should prove enlightening or at least thought-provoking.
1.) 11 MAR 11 from the Associated Press (WASHINGTON) The top U.S. nuclear regulator said Monday he will not change a recommendation that U.S. citizens stay at least 50 miles away from Japan's crippled nuclear power plant, even as he declared that the crisis in that country remains "static."
Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that the month-old crisis in Japan has not yet stabilized. But he said conditions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have not changed significantly for several days.
"We describe the situation as static but not yet stable," Jaczko said.
"It hasn't really changed too much in the last few days," he added, but it will be weeks or even months before the plant is stabilized.Jaczko said the most important job at the plant still is keeping water in the spent fuel pools to cool the highly radioactive fuel rods, reducing the threat of a meltdown and a catastrophic release of radiation.
Jaczko, who traveled to Japan last month, said the NRC has begun a two-pronged approach to review the safety of the 104 commercial U.S. nuclear reactors in the wake of the Japanese crisis.
2.) 12 Apr 11 from The Mainichi Daily News (TOKYO) The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it is concerned that radiation leakage at the plant could eventually exceed that of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.
"The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that the amount of leakage could eventually reach that of Chernobyl or exceed it," an official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
"It has caused less human consequences than a moderate road-traffic accident."
Odd... I've not seen any road-traffic accidents that resulted in the mandatory evacuation of every human within a 20 kilometre radius, nor caused the ban on sale of a wide variety of agricultural produce, nor that resulted in damage that'll cost tens of billions of pounds (that could otherwise be spent on more worthy projects) to clean up.
Or is the author perhaps equating 'human consequences' to 'immediate deaths' and therefore blindly ignoring the incredible disruption and economic impact of the accident.
He's saying that less people have been killed than in a moderate RTA. The "human consequences" that you mention are, in a rational world quite unnecessary. They are only imposed so that the government can be seen to be pandering to the most fearmongering sections of the media, so that they may appease fact ignoring sensationalists like yourself.
it wasn't the nuclear problems that caused the evacuation or the food bans, it was widespread misinformation and fearmongering coupled with a heavy dose of "play it safe and cover your ass".
as far as the cleanup costs, I don't know what it is in pounds, but 3 mile island cost around $1billion to clean up (0.6billion pounds? something like that, if google is to be believed.) so for cleanup of all 4 reactors (probably only 3 are beyond repair, but they are at the end of thier life cycle anyways), thats $4billion (2.4billion pounds, again according to google). compare that to the earthquake and tsunami cleanup which is estimated to be well over $100 billion, and fukushima really would never have been anything more than a footnote in the larger disaster, were it not for the unfounded abject terror caused by the radiation monster.
In a rational world I wouldn't have had to wait for my school bus to be checked for bombs or leave a hospital ward because of a bomb scare. After all, the IRA never bombed any school buses or hospitals. But "the government" still went ahead and did it because there was elevated risk. It's nothing to do with fear-mongering media.
The poster was right. In his zeal to counter fear-mongering Lewis went too far with that statement. It's a serious problem and the cautionary measures are highly disruptive.
clean-up costs - yes, and no
One thing that's happened in the intervening years between TMI and today is that a LOT of work has been done to develop techniques for decommissioning reactors at "end of life" - several have been completely dismantled and removed from site - the working assumption from most industry professionals is in the region of $350-500/KW. That'd be about $375million for Reactors 2 & 3 at Fukushima, less for R1.
Toshiba seem to be well up for it:
Obviously, it's a lot easier to dismantle a plant that's been closed down in an orderly manner, as opposed to one that's as thoroughly buggered as R1-R3. I'd double it, then throw in a bit more. Call it £1.5Bn, and you'll be in the right neck of the woods.
BTW, the Tsunami damage estimates are now closer to $2-300Bn.
All in all, I'd be surprised if the costs of decommissioning Fukushima were more than 1-2% of the total damage.
ah, your info is more current than mine was, thanks for the articles, interesting stuff there!
still not cheap, but a very far cry from the "hundereds of billions" some of the more anti-nuclear folks would have us believe. and downright insignifigant compared to the tsunami and earthquake.
@ AC 'idiot'
You may not see mandatory evacuations (well....maybe after tanker spills....), but you do see similar knee-jerk reactions by ill-informed morons - usually politicians, journalists (BBC - I too am looking at YOU) or bureaucrats - often leveraging the situation to there own advantage.
Sticking to the car accident analogy, speed cameras are a good example - great revenue earners, while a great excuse to cut the number of police officers on traffic duty, not to mention a great little empire (the so-called 'road safety partnerships') to maintain.
With this little situation, the old nuclear paranoia makes for great press and a great way of milking for sympathy (and more cash for whatever empire building Mr. Bureaucrat wants to do).
Wasn't it one of Blair's people who tried using 9/11 as a great day to bury bad news? Opportunists gather around every corner, looking an angle to rally the easily lead, the ignorant and the impressionable behind their cause with misdirection, half-truths or occasional downright lies.
> After all, the IRA never bombed any school buses or hospitals
Yes,they have. They bombed Musgrave park hospital 10 years or so ago (the link corridor between teh civilian and military bits).
They've also bombed at least one school bus, where the driver was in the army.
speaking of idocy
You're equating the consequences of panic and careful precautions in the middle of a massive natural disaster on top of the power station issue with the consequences of the actual nuclear power station issues themselves.
Don't get confused
between 'evacuate cos it is dangerous' and 'evacuate just in case'.
So why do the numbers keep on changing?
I'm not saying you're right or wrong, I just don't know enough about it. However I think Tepco and the various bodies regulating this could have done a little better in actually predicting these numbers. It's bound to be unsettling when every week the numbers are getting bigger, even if the biggyness doesn't directly equate to nastyness. Could they at least put a ceiling on it? The worst it could get to is... ... and for that reason you don't need to worry.
Also, there is clearly a large difference in opinion; I'm glad that Auntie is printing them all, rather than just yours. They may be wrong, but so may you be (as I said, I don't know).
Excuse me, but What the Hell are you talking about?
What numbers are you accusing of continual change?
If you can be bothered, go research the actual data, it's all right there. Even with the best will in the world, it's practically impossible to do more than assess the damage and estimate the possible release of fission products *after* the fact. those estimates include a pretty large fudge factor to ensure there is no under estimation, and they will change as more information becomes available to those performing the assessment.
What is it that you do not understand ab out damage assessment?
You're not excused, I told you I don't know what I'm talking about
You can't be bothered to read the post you're replying to, so I don't know why you expect me to be able to research a nuclear leak. The most obvious number that has changed is the one that has gone 4, 5, 6, 7. Going from a 4 to a 7 is more than a fudge factor, and the scale isn't just linear. Now you will probably say that the scale is only applicable once the material has leaked, and it can't be a 7 till it's leaked enough. Maybe, but reports have suggested that this is more of a subjective assessment of the state of the leak. The steady raising of the level indicates to a layman that it is getting worse, perhps not, I really don't know. That's why I asked the question.
What do I understand about damage assessment? About the same as you seem to understand of English - very little.
The ceiling is 7
The INES scale goes from 0 to 7. It can't get any higher. If you Google for "INES" you can find out about it.
The purpose of the INES scale is "to enable prompt communication of safety significance information in case of nuclear accidents". I.e. it's to figure out how much help / co-ordination / communication is needed. E.g., if one of the regulators gets a bulletin about a level 1 incident, they can ignore it for a while (or even forever) without even reading the rest of it. If they get a bulletin about a level 4 incident then it only matters if it's nearby. If they get a bulletin about a new level 7 incident, they need to read it RIGHT NOW even if that means waking people up at 3am.
You may have noticed that people have already provided a lot of help to TEPCO. And TEPCO, NISA and the Japanese government have already been providing a lot of information to everyone (e.g. on the NISA website). So the change in the INES rating is probably not going to make any practical difference. Except to scare people.
Duck and Cover!
The commentards are coming!
Japanese tsunami debris to reach West Coast in 2014
Engineering does not stand still
Another facet of the nuclear issue that is glossed over by the media is that engineering does not stand still. The Chernobyl plant did not have a containment building. Nobody does that any more. The Daiichi reactors are fairly old (35-40 years), and many improvements in newer plants are not present in that one. Designs for future nuclear plants (Generation III and IV) are even safer.
The media treats the risks from nuclear power as if they will stay the same forever. That is just not so, we learn from experience, come up with better ideas, do much better simulations today than 1971,etc. Sure, go back and shore up the safety systems of old plants. Try not to place new ones near earthquake and tsunami hazard areas (obvious in retrospect). Use the best new designs with passive safety systems. And report the risks in a factual manner, neither being overly panicy, or try to minimize it.
Not only that but there are three layers of containment at Fukushima
The reactor vessel, the drywell and the reactor building itself.
Even though Fukushima is an older design, it's several times safer - from a design point of view, than the reactor that exploded in Chernobyl.
The thing about the obvious in retrospect aspect of not building nuclear power plants near earthquake and tsunami zones is that the whole of Japan is an earthquake zone. They have no choice what so ever in that respect. That's why a rational assessment of what happened at Fukushima is important, it's also why the constant media harping on about the crisis and conflating the destruction and danger at Chernobyl with Fukushima is so damned destructive. That media coverage destroys any attempt at a rational analysis making it near impossible to look at the real events and lessons of Fukushima.
Rationally looking at Fukushima Daiichi and Dainii one has to conclude that despite their rather old, and by modern standards in some ways flawed designs, these plants withstood a monstrous earthquake that could not have reasonably been anticipated based on the record history. They were designed for two orders of magnitude less shaking than they received, Even *after* the original quake there have been 5 or 6 major aftershocks of Magnitude 7 or above that exceed the original design limitations of the plant. Yet despite the considerable damage already wrought at Fuykushima Daiichi, these very large earthquakes (in their own right) have not caused any further damage. I think that is an incredible testament to the resilience of the reactors based on their design and construction.
Looking further though, as Lewis has, a rational assessment of Fukushima cannot in any way say that the crisis at Fukushima is even remotely close to being as dangerous or destructive as that at Chernobyl. Yet many in the media and many commenters here will continue to say that Fukushima is now on par with Chernobyl, when in truth that is absolutely untrue.
I will now prepare to be downvoted into oblivion...
"The Chernobyl plant did not have a containment building. "
Some of the reactors at Fukushima don't have containment buildings either - although they did once.
Meanwhile, away from Planet Denial - which seems like a popular holiday destination on El Reg - here are the latest official cumulative radiation measurements for the area.
Numbers in the box at the bottom are in mSV, and including a trailing decimal point - so the not so thin blue line is 100mSV.
Numbers from the spot ground measurements in the box at the left are in Bq/kg.
Since Lewis and so many other people here seem to think 100msV is a perfectly reasonable zero-health-consequences dose to shower on a population, I wonder how many Reg readers and staff would volunteer to have a beta source placed near their thyroid, or some other sensitive glands, until they'd accumulated an equivalent.
When all the shouting and melodrama are done - not many, I'd guess.
Fact is there are reasons why there are dose limits in public health policy. And those reasons are *good* reasons - based on proven effects.
Meanwhile implying that Chernobyl was a bit of a speed bump but no one was really hurt or killed is utter raving nonsense.
The Zone may be less dangerous now - after 25 years, you'd hope it would be - but the medical effects are very thoroughly documented.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster_effects is a reasonable introduction, with further links for those capable of reality-based thinking - and a picture or two for those who aren't.
"I wonder how many Reg readers and staff would volunteer to have a beta source placed near their thyroid, or some other sensitive glands, until they'd accumulated an equivalent."
Set it up, man. Bring the press, some greenies, maybe The Amazing Randi to make sure I'm not palming some potassium iodide. Whatever you want.
How much will you pay me to do it?
I'm serious, btw. You just have to make it worth my time.
I'm trying to figure out how this correlates with the rolling blackouts that some colleagues in Tokyo were talking to me about a couple of days ago.
I'm sure you're right, though - and they're wrong. After all, what would they know about electricity?
"...rolling blackouts mostly didn't occur..."
Not DIDN'T occur, MOSTLY didn't, which you can read as "some happened, but nowhere near as many as we originally planned"
"...and ended altogether yesterday"
Your information would appear to be out of date.