A preliminary report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that the response to the Fukushima nuclear incident was "exemplary" and that nobody has been harmed by radiation exposure resulting from it. The report was drafted by an IAEA fact-finding team which has just completed a visit to Japan. The team was …
"a huge, uncontrolled, unshielded nuclear reactor. "
"we (all of us) would not be here at all if it weren't for a huge, uncontrolled, unshielded nuclear reactor. Most of us cal it ... "the sun"
Fancy that. I didn't know that. Well, I did, actually, being a physics graduate and all that. I even know what Daisyworld is. I don't know how many journalists know though.
Anyway, questions for the audience: is it a fission or fusion reactor? How far away is it? How well is it understood?
How much harm could it do us, and how? When's the next 1859-scale coronal mass ejection due? How about another solar storm on the scale of the one that took out Quebec Hydro in 1989?
And most importantly: could the energy supply industry make much more use of this radiation than it currently does? Most of us call it... "solar power", I don't care what Lewis calls it.
"could the energy supply industry make much more use of this radiation than it currently does?"
Of course. Naturally, there's a small problem of using fifty different carcinogenics in solar cell production, meaning that when the first solar panels end their lifecycle we'll have to find a way to safely store/reuse a huge amount of cadmium and arsenic.
Not to mention that solar cells are rather ineffective and the electricity produced by them is ten times as expensive.
Are there a lot of people working in nuclear-related industries here? It's like a nuclear sales convention.
The current scenario is very different from Page's predictions at the beginning of this problem, which might explain some of the cynicism. That the various operators and regulatory authorities have a long and proven history of lying through their teeth is plainly no reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt this time.
That said this plan, which invokes Dr. Michio Kaku - possibly the media's favorite dancing bear and ice skater of note - Is spectacular. The idea is to drill holes under Fukushima and detonate nuclear weapons under the plant, thus causing it to slide into the sea, allowing as yet imaginary submarines to retrieve the radioactive bits from the sea floor, following the unarguable logic that things are much easier to retrieve from the bottom of the sea with the use of satisfyingly expensive equipment than from dry land using existing technology.
What could possibly go wrong? :)
This just keeps getting better and better.
Nice to see straight forward accurate reporting and especially gratifying to see contempt plainly expressed for both the self-intersted anti-progress elite and the ordinary people who pay attention to the lies of that elite.
Why no mention of the radioactive cesium contamination?
Shit like this is disingenuous:
"To date no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident."
What, we should expect people to develop cancer in a few weeks?
In any event, these are facts which El Reg refuses to lay emphasis on:
* The plant is still not under control
* It has spewed radiation into the air, on the ground, and in the sea
* There are still a host of unknowns as to the degree of contamination
* Everyone near the plant has been evacuated, homes abandoned, businesses shut down
* Agricultural exports from the area have been banned
Instead we hear in El Reg's "reporting" on the issue that the plant not being under control is no big whoop, 'cos the super-fancy steel containment stuff is like, totally fine! And there's a website where you can see just exactly how much teensy-weensy bits of radiation have been released, shoot, less than you would get from a banana shake in Madras! And nothing is unknown except just how incredibly awesomely wonderful nuclear power is, and how extra-believable the IAEA (those known jaundiced critics of the industry) are! And the spinach and green tea from the area are like, totally super-safe, eat some and you can't even taste the difference!
I must hand it to the Register, these horribly biased articles by two staff writers (who clearly are on the payroll of GE as well as El Reg) whose "reporting" has involved nary a single trip to any part of Japan, let alone Fukushima itself, have done a great job of herding the average El Reg reader into the nuclear corner ("well if I oppose it I must be an unwashed ignorant peasant, and heaven knows I am *not* one of those! I read, dammit!"). Well done.
I look forward to your downvotes and acerbic comebacks questioning my IQ, the quality of my DNA ,etc. etc. etc. Meantime Fukushima is still a giant clusterfuck, bad news keeps leaking out in dribs and drabs about how it's actually much worse than a couple of stricken reactors farting rainbows and extra-fortified sunshine.
Just address the cesium issue (the cleanup of the stuff, not your assessment that there's not enough to worry about), would you El Reg? And with a different writer, these two clowns who have been on the case thus far have managed to turn this topic into a war between El Reg and its readership: always a smart business move.
praise where it is due
Let's separate the issues here:
- Is nuclear power a good thing in general ? This seems to be your main concern.
- Did the authorities in Japan manage a bad situation as well as they could have possibly done ? This was the thrust of the report from the IAEA.
- Was Lewis's reporting predominantly accurate and better than nearly all contemporaneous reports written in English ?
In response to the third issue, I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank Lewis for his attention to detail. On two occasions I used his articles to deal with severely distraught family members urging me to get myself and my family the hell out of Japan. One of whom was becoming sick with worry. We should not forget the hysterical nature of much the reporting going on elsewhere at that time. Lewis's reports may not have been perfect, but they were very well researched and time has shown them to be predominantly accurate. It is disingenuous to pick up on specific discrepancies without referencing the context; the general quality of reporting on this issue in all media.
As it happens, I actually agree with @interested_reader about nuclear power in general, and have always held that the long-term costs and uncertainty around disposal to be unacceptable. But praise where it is due. The response of the Japanese authorities to this specific incident was apparently excellent and Lewis's articles were predominantly accurate.
>>I look forward to your downvotes and acerbic comebacks questioning my IQ, the quality of my DNA
No need to bother.
>>Meantime Fukushima is still a giant clusterfuck
The point is, and always has been, that what ever level of disaster you want to attribute to Fukushima, the tsunami based destruction around it makes it insignificant. It really is that simple.
You do realize that there is toxic chemical, including salt water contamination, to huge areas. These chemicals have a half-life of more than 100 billion years!!!!! . Oh noes.
Doesn't the IAEA exist to promote and monitor good practice in using nuclear fuel anyway?
(So shouldn't IAEA be more independent?)
While the workers are doing a great job and given that major other events happened before the melt down occurred > hope and pray that a similar event does not happen again any time soon.
how many deaths in Chernobyl ?
So the melt down was contained as designed.
I think not,
the melt down was contained because below the reactor was a big basement
that due to a wave or two had lots of water in it.
an interesting way to design.
no deaths, well how many were caused by chernobyl radiation ? is it up to two now,
Is someone proffering some investor bait here?
"on another note, the greentards throw all the guilt on nuclear power, while they actually should on their own governments for not promoting more safety and better waste management *almost all the radioactive waste could be rendered non-radioactive with a bit of research."
No wonder the USA abandoned the Yucca Mountain waste repository! All we need it just a bit more research....
The internet is full of Boll**** masquerading as fact
"the melt down was contained because below the reactor was a big basement....that due to a wave or two had lots of water in it."
You know, it's just as easy to look up the design of the power plants at Fukushima for yourself and discover why melting fuel rods didn't make it to the outside as it is just to post made up nonsense that entered your head.
Give it a go!
Some people are more invested in arguing over the Internet than in the reality of Fukushima
"The point is, and always has been, that what ever level of disaster you want to attribute to Fukushima, the tsunami based destruction around it makes it insignificant. It really is that simple."
No, it really is not that simple. Houses can be rebuilt. Roads can be repaved. Power lines put back up, destroyed ships, cars, planes remanufactured.
Salt water can be washed away with fresh water. Ingesting some salt won't give you cancer. As for saying salt has a half-life of billions of years, that doesn't even make any sense. Salt isn't radioactive.
What do you propose to do about radioactive cesium in the ground, in the ocean, and in the water table?
Reminder: there are no safe doses of radiation.
I know your precious little web cartoon with the USRDA of radiation is cute and cuddly and snarkily funny, but it won't do shit for you as protection from getting cancer. Neither will writers of the Register be around to pooh-pooh the cancer diagnoses that are bound to result from the Fukushima accident in coming years (just as they did from Chernobyl).
The reason that radiation dosage guidelines are so incredibly low for nuclear power plant workers is not because a bunch of hysterical hippies somehow conned governments worldwide into over-regulating the poor, put-upon nuclear power industry. The dosage guidelines are low because the safest dose is zero, and the stuff is ridiculously poisonous. In most cases, if you ingest radioactive isotopes, they tend to do things like hang out in your body, become part of your bones, and cause cancer.
It astounds me that the hacks at El Reg can continue to blather on about how wonderfully fine Fukushima is when the plant is still not under control and the full extent of contamination is still unknown. Yes, unknown. In the purest, non-Rumsfeldian sense of the word.
Paris, because even she has more shame than the paid trolls running amok in the "Science" section of El Reg.
No safe dose of radiation?
I mean, standing in the sun for too long gets you a nice dosage of UV radiation, and that is technically harmful. Do it often enough, and you get skin cancer. Doesn't exactly stop millions of people from lounging on beaches.
Stand in front of a fire too long and you get cooked from the infra red radiation. Of course, most people are sensible enough to move out of the way before then.
Or are you only worried about ionizing radiation? The big bad EVIL KILLER™.
Frankly the caesium plume is localised to an area fairly close to the ocean. It will rapidly start to dissipate once it hits the ocean, and dilute itself pretty quickly. As we are seeing. Put in an exclusion zone for certain types of fishing for a period of time until the concentration drops enough and problem solved. Whats the likelyhood that cancer rates go up? If you started drinking the affected groundwater, yes, your risk would increase. Slightly. If you started smoking in response to the shock of being hit by an earthquake, your risk of cancer would go up significantly. People are very bad at making comparative judgements of risks. They greatly exaggerate uncommon risks, and devalue common risks.
I also love your idea that a bit of salt can be washed away with fresh water.
Have you ever tried to deal with salt contaminated soil? It takes quite some time for deposited salts to be flushed out even with very heavy irrigation, especially if the water table has been affected in any way. I expect it will take a while to irrigate the 470km² of countryside that was underwater, and the soil won't be very productive of food until that is done.
But its all ok, as the salt isn't radioactive right?
>>Roads can be repaved. Power lines put back up
>>Salt water can be washed away with fresh water.
Actually they usually have to scrape off the topsoil otherwise the salt will affect plant growth for years to come.
>>Salt isn't radioactive.
I said it has a half life of more than a Billion years. That was tongue in check since most people as overly concerned about radioactive pollution taking millions of years to decay, but happy forget that non radioactive chemicals are there forever. There is a lot of other nasty stuff been spilt apart from salt, just that salt makes up a huge amount and people ignore it too because it is just salt.
>>Reminder: there are no safe doses of radiation.
Check out the radiation Hormesis debate and also the comments in previous post. Safe is relative. A lifetime 25mSv radiation dose produces a worst case life-time risk of death by cancer of about 0.1% using the LNT model, that is around the same cancer rate cause by eating a few slices of ham a week.*
>>pooh-pooh the cancer diagnoses
You have approximately 20% chance of getting cancer in your life, from sun, ciggies, alcohol or eating ham. Even the largest estimates of cancer deaths from Chernobyl are lost in the statistical noise. Some researchers claim to see a blip, others say no blip.
>>the stuff is ridiculously poisonous
Nope, not really. For some perspective, try Arsine, phosphine, borane or silane gases used in semiconductor manufacture.
* I have no direct reference for this number, I estimated that based on a quote that not eating ham would save 3000 colon cancer deaths per year in the UK and various stats on cancer death rates.
"A fuller report will be delivered at a summit conference in Vienna ..."
And guess which country has NO nuclear power ... why, it's Austria of course!
And what is the capital city of Austria? ... why, it's Vienna of course!
And where is the IAEA based? ... why, it's Vienna of course!
"Safe dose is zero" = bollocks
If that were the case, then large swathes of land such as the South West of England, the peak district, and most of Scotland would be quarantined on account of the high levels of background radiation in these areas.
If that were the case, then Chernobyl's exclusion zone would not today be absolutely teeming with life.
If that were the case, then humans wouldn't survive, as we all need potassium to survive, and it's a radioactive substance. The only reason eating bananas (naturally radioactive on account of the high level of potassium) doesn't increase your radioactivity is because the body excretes the potassium it doesn't need.
If that were the case, then flights would be banned. Airline employees working on aircraft pick up a dose of radiation each year which puts the amount absorbed by the people near fukushima into the shade.
If that were the case, then hospitals wouldn't use radiation to help identify and cure people of illness (with the help of x-rays, ct scans, radiation treatment for tumours and so on).
The reality is that radiation in low levels causes *NO MEASURABLE* effect on the health of the individual. Animals and plants have natural protection mechanisms within the cell to protect against ionising radiation. It is only when these natural systems are overwhelmed that we can start to measure the effect on health of radiation.
*Nobody* outside the power plant in Japan was at risk from radiation. The evacuation was entirely precautionary, though not without risk (some patients in a hospital died as a result of being moved)
Coal plants emit far more radiation into the environment per unit of electricity generated, along with a load of other airborne pollutants which have a clear measurable effect on the health of people. If you were in charge of policy with your 'there is no safe dose' nonsense, we'd end up being thrown back into the stone age through lack of power generating capacity. That *would* cause huge loss of life.
The hysteria and ignorance surrounding nuclear issues continues in the same way as conspiracy theories about 9/11, UFOs and religious belief. It's all fuelled by ignorance masquerading as 'truth'.
Do yourself a favour and use the internet not just to look for things which affirm your preconceived ideas, but instead challenge them.
It seems to have escaped the notice of some
that roughly 25% of us are going to die from cancer of some kind after our alloted spans. Only 56 years ago, two nuclear devices* were detonated over cities which were quickly re-built and stand today vibrantly populated. The near-paranoid fear-of-nuclear meme is a hangover from Cold War days when production of bomb-grade materials was a primary function of nuclear installations and privacy was very important. All viable alternatives deserve research and encouragement but nuclear can carry the baseload into a future not predicated on just burning shit till we croak. Or we get croaked. Did everyone notice the quick shell-game change of units from Sieverts ( so milli and micro ) to the much-more-scarily-numerous Becquerels as the panic/coverage proceeded ? One must ask whose interests are being affected here and who's in bed with whom ? Media and CarbonFuels ? The IEAE may be an industrial association, Lewis a propagandist and I a for-real bunny but ElReg's coverage of Fukushima, warts and all, has been a beacon of sanity in a world of MediaGoneMad®. I am ful of grate.
Lewis keeps us up to date on all the latest mission-accomplishing black-gold liberating casualty-free collateral-damage-limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction too. Study these for the reel Feer.
* and a whole bunch more elsewhere before and since.
icon - vandalism and a waste of fuel
^ Only 66 years ago sorry my bad
Bananas and salt and Chernobyl
Bananas: potassium is not radioactive. It has a radioactive isotope that exists in miniscule quantities.
Salt: you can ingest salt and you won't die. In fact, the body needs salt.
Chernobyl: bizarre mutations in the "teeming" animal and plant life in the exclusion zone have been and continue to be observed, including albino birds and trees that don't know which way is up when they grow.
Radioactive cesium is a bitch. It's all over the place around Fukushima, and the health effects will be long-term because the half-life is long-term. It doesn't "dissipate", it concentrates within the food chain, just like mercury in fish. No one has yet addressed what will be done to clean up the radioactive isotopes spewed all over the immediate area of Fukushima, particularly the longer-lived isotopes, for which there is NO SAFE DOSE to ingest into your body. If you eat radioactive cesium, you are fucked. The only question is how much, and how soon. Hopefully it is only a little and not for a long time yet. But no one knows and the reactor complex is still. Not. Under. Control.
Essentially all that the Reg articles have said on the Fukushima boils down to these points:
1) Well at least most of the fuel seems to have been contained!
2) The tsunami destroyed entire towns! Why are you whining about a little radiation?
3) Chernobyl was a bunch of shit. We could all go live there right now and nobody would grow a third arm tomorrow.
4) Hey, background radiation exists everywhere! Bananas, airplanes, and Madras! So STFU hippies!
5) People die in mines and fall off windmills. Chemical contamination and accidents with non-nuclear power have killed more people than nuclear power. So again, STFU hippies!
None of this addresses the central problem with Fukushima and with nuclear power in general: so far (so far!) humanity has only dodged the bullet when it comes to nuclear catastrophe. There have been some serious messes and some serious health consequences, but so far the nightmare scenarios of toxic nuclear plumes blowing all over the world and causing instant sickness and death have been avoided. But dodging the bullet doesn't mean getting shot at is safe. Nuclear power is extremely risky, extremely dangerous, and it creates extremely toxic waste for which there is no cleanup; the only solution is to dig a deep, secure hole and hope nobody digs it back up (or it leaks out) for thousands of years.
The Fukushima incident was not vastly worse because we are so great at designing and maintaining nuclear power plants. It was only by sheer luck or the grace of God or whatever you like to call it that the the disaster did not turn out infinitely worse.
As it is, radioactive cesium and other isotopes are out there in the food chain and there is still no answer from anyone as to how this will be cleaned up. All the sheep can do is bleat about bananas and flight attendants and Madras. I don't see anyone flying over to Fukushima to eat the spinach or drink the green tea, though. Least of all brave Messrs. Page and Orlowski, and certainly not on their own dime. (Will the Register foot the bill to back up their trolling, I wonder?)
I really can't be bothered any more, your blinkers and earmuffs are on just too tight. But I will leave you with one little point, since you seem keen on challenging everyone to eat radioactive cesium.
You say "Salt: you can ingest salt and you won't die." Well here is a little challenge for you - spend three weeks drinking sea water and tell us how far you get. It's not poisonous is it?
Japan doubles the estimate (estimate!) of radiation released at Fukushima
For those of you keeping score at home via banana consumption, you'll need to head back to the local grocer to double your intake.
Or check your favorite news outlet.
The news is not going to get better about this mess; it is going to come out in dribs and drabs about how extra-fucked-up it actually was and is. Cleanup will not be trivial and I don't believe the exclusion zone is a bunch of bureaucratic BS; it is there for a good reason.
OK, so I guess it kind of *is* a meltdown. Three, actually...
"Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday."
Errr I don't follow the seawater argument. So bizarre one is not sure how to reply.
Salt is not a poison. Salt is necessary for life. You can ingest salt and you won't die.
Radioactive cesium is a poison. It is not necessary for life. If you ingest it, it builds up in your bones and muscle tissue and your body takes a while to flush it out; long enough that cancer is a real risk. Radioactive strontium is even worse. The body treats it like calcium and it does not flush out of your system entirely; it accumulates in the bones.
How in hell does saying that drinking too much seawater will make humans sick somehow imply that ingesting radioactive isotopes is safe? There is no safe dose for ingesting these things. There is a safe (there is even a necessary) dose of salt, on the other hand.
As for seawater, lots of good tasty stuff grows in it. Fish, for example. Seaweed. Shrimp. Whales, even, if you are so inclined. Hand me an oyster dripping with brackish salty water and I'll scarf it right down. Hand me an oyster grown in water contaminated with radioactive cesium and strontium and I will decline.
Paris, because even she knows that not everything salty is bad for you.
>> I don't follow the seawater argument.
I noticed. You are so entirely convinced that "radioactive" is more dangerous than anything else that your brain is incapable of processing anything. I will be generous and suggest a mental block.
>>Salt is not a poison.
Actually, like anything else, too much salt will kill you. Too much drinking water will kill you, and I don't mean drowning (eg Wii competition). Too many vitamins can kill you. Check out Hypervitaminosis A from eating the wrong type of liver. Just because a small dose is OK, doesn't mean a large dose is OK. Similarly, just because a large dose kills you doesn't mean you are harmed by a small dose at all.
Famously summarised as “The dose makes the poison.”
>>Radioactive cesium is a poison
No it isn't. Caesium, radioactive or otherwise, is excreted by natural means.
>>builds up in your bones and muscle tissue
No it doesn't. As you said, your body flushes it out - logically it can't do both at the same time.
I thought we were discussion Fukushima - mainly Iodine and Caesium. I couldn't find a sensible link to Strontium at Fukushima, just a load of scare sites.
>>drinking too much seawater will make humans sick
You miss the point. Drinking too much sea water will kill you. You will be just as exactly dead as if you had a lethal dose of radiation.
>>There is no safe dose for ingesting these things.
There is a safe dose for everything. That seems to be you main difficulty. Let’s try it with a few examples. I seem to remember you mentioned knowing about radioactive Potassium in bananas. This is natural potassium, nothing nasty and man made. Do you eat bananas? How about Brazil nuts? What about carrots, potatoes or meat? Your assertion that there is no safe dose would imply that you can't eat any of these things because of the K-40. What about Carbon-14, which is in everything you eat? The point is, at some level, the dose of radiation from any source needs to be considered in relation to the natural back ground. There IS a safe dose. Or more correctly there is a dose at which the risk is far lower than the combined risk from everything else in life. The safe limits for anything to do with radiation are already set extremely low. The potassium currently in your body will produce some 4000 decays per second, many of which will cause a DNA defect. That is 40,000 potential cancers you just got from reading this post. And that is just the potassium. Here’s the good bit – your cells just deal with it. They are designed to repair DNA damage and it works remarkably well. The only odd bit is that given the amount of damage your cells successfully repairs daily, that it occasionally does go wrong. Worrying about some thing less than an extra lifetime 0.1% risk, when you have a 20-30% chance of a fatal cancer anyway, seems a little odd.
>>not everything salty is bad for you
Exactly, because there a safe limits for everything. This concept also applies to radiation and radioactive isotopes.
those unable to use logic fall foul of nuclear hysteria
If you're the sort of person who considers salt to be 'safe' because it is necessary for life, then quite clearly you don't have the reasoning skills to engage usefully with a debate about nuclear safety.
The truth about salt is that is a killer. Not only will you die rather quickly if you have large amounts of it (e.g. drink seawater), but you'll also suffer from all sorts of chronic conditions which shorten life if your diet contains slightly raised levels of the stuff.
Now in the same way, nuclear material can either be harmless or dangerous depending on the type and severity of exposure, and the type of radioactive element involved.
But you're already on record as making the declaration that there is no safe level of radiation - something totally disproven by the evidence - something you are quite clearly unable to deal with.
It is precisely because you are unable to reason that you find yourself making no headway in the debate.
If you want to influence others, I suggest you stop hiding from the facts which disprove your claims, stop making things up, and start asking yourself why you have such an emotional hatred for a form of power generation which kills fewer people each year than any other mainstream source of power generation - all without having to change the chemistry of the atmosphere in a way which most scientists agree will cause mass suffering in a few decades.
It must be very upsetting to you that even the most devastating natural disaster pitched against a collection of 6 nuclear power plants led to the death of... absolutely nobody, even though these plants were built before I was even born. Radiation levels outside the plant areas remain stubbornly low - less than you'd experience in a holiday cottage in Newquay. (Which, I suppose, should be evacuated as it is 'unsafe')
I also find it quite sickening that you downplay the destructive consequences of the tsunami in order to try to clear the decks for your non-existent nuclear armaggedon scenario. Tens of thousands of people were actually killed, injured or made homeless, and countless hectares of land will be out of production for a significant period due to plain old 'safe' salt water.
"Led to the death of absolutely nobody" is not really a high standard
Saying that the Fukushima mess hasn't killed anyone (yet) doesn't really make for a ringing recommendation for nuclear power, in my view. The stuff that is spewed all over the ground and in the water is stuff that gives people cancer over the long term... so it's kind of disingenuous to say that nobody has any signs of cancer yet, so A+ for the Fukushima disaster!
Salt is not "a killer". Anything in excess can be harmful (even too much plain old water can be harmful)... that is not the same as something which, in and of itself, is a poison. Radioactive isotopes are poisonous. If you get them inside your body, the only question is how soon can your body flush out the poison before it does too much irreversible damage. In some cases the body cannot flush the poison out fast enough (cesium), in others, not ever (strontium).
Saying salt is a killer and windmills "kill" people proves what exactly? Salt, taken in moderation, is healthy. Windmills, constructed safely and serviced carefully and safely, don't kill anyone. It is a bit of logical sleight of hand to claim that non-nuclear power "kills" people.
My point remains the same. The risk associated with nuclear power generation is too high. It has to be handled nearly perfectly from cradle to grave, whether you are looking at the fuel, the construction of and failsafes built into the plants, the waste, etc. etc. etc. It's a chain where every link is critical and cannot be broken. Witness the case at Fukushima. The earthquake also caused an oil storage depot to blow up in Chiba; it's not still burning and spewing oil all over the place. Fukushima, on the other hand, is still not under control and the full extent of its contamination of the environment is unknown.
As for the ad hominem attacks claiming I have some sort of emotional hatred of nuclear power, or want to downplay the tsunami, etc.... really? Because I refuse to go along with this preposterous nonsense masquerading as journalism in the Reg pages, and I am willing to call out El Reg on what I consider to be bad reporting, somehow I must be an evil or sad or pathetic or ignorant "sort of person"? Errr... no.
Further to the point of downplaying the tsunami: the triumphalism evidenced in the articles the Reg has published on this topic downplays the consequences of this disaster, in my view. People can't go to their homes or jobs and farmers can't farm, etc. but Messrs. Orlowski and Page would have us believe this is all some sort of bureaucratic boondoggle and the poor misguided slobs in the Japanese government are just trying to cover their asses.
Similarly, they dismiss any discussion of the aftereffects of Chernobyl (wildlife mutations, cancer in the surrounding human population) as overblown nonsense... we are not talking about UFO articles on Pravda here. There are reputable scientists who can back up their claims that yes, Chernobyl had an effect on people's health, and yes, Fukushima is a huge clusterfuck that by no means vindicates the safety procedures of either that particular plant or the whole industry.
I can't help but wonder why the Register, normally a bastion of skepticism and of not toeing the party line (whatever the party), has suddenly taken it upon itself to claim loudly and repeatedly that Fukushima is not a disaster and was handled just fine. Meantime, the news reports keep coming out that more of this or that poisonous isotope was released than initially estimated, the exclusion zone is not going away, and the plant is not going to be under control any time soon.
If the plant was back up and running right now, and the most contamination that leaked was some stuff with a brief half-life, and there was no exclusion zone... then I might buy into pronouncements declaring we should build more Fukushimas, and I might snicker at the "mummy mummy there's a nuclear monster" asides as well.
But that is not where we are and the Reg is ignoring reportage and data that undermine its editorial position that nuclear power is just fine and dandy. These are all opinion pieces, not factual reporting.
>>the death of absolutely nobody" is not really a high standard
Good God, what in heavens name would you consider a high standard! The mind really does boggle at that one.
>>nobody has any signs of cancer yet
And 20 years from now, you will have an extremely hard time locating the additional cancer cases from the general background rate of 20-30%. They will definitely be less than 0.1% extra. The large number of extra deaths attributed to Chernobyl in some studies are only a result of the large populations involved, even the biggest of these is less than 0.1%. The argument rage because even at these levels, it is hard to impossible to really see a trend against a 20-30% background, especially when increased alcoholism in post soviet years has increased the death rate anyway. Let us go for an impossible worst case scenario. 80,000 people live in the exclusion zone and a statistically significant 1% get cancer over the next 20 years. That is 800 people. That is at least a factor 10 to high, and is likely to be even less. Even 800 is still small compared ~20,000 dead immediately from the tsunami, not considering long term effects.
>>Salt is not "a killer"
>>Something which in and of itself, is a poison
This is a basic principal, there is no such thing as "a poison", there is only a dose which is poisonous.
>>oil storage depot to blow up in Chiba; it's not still burning and spewing oil all over the place
But they haven't finished cleaning that up either. And you also have to consider the scale - Chiba went up with on big bang dispersing tonnes of toxins.
>>ad hominem attacks...or want to downplay the tsunami, etc.... really?
Yes, really. Constantly banging on about caesium when that is not any way the main problem is downplaying the tsunami. You can claim all you want that you don't mean it, but it is not what you keep saying.
>>I must be an evil or sad or pathetic or ignorant "sort of person"? Errr... no.
Your failure to grasp the simplest of facts, however often repeated is quite astounding. You still haven't understood the discussion on salt.
>>Further to the point of downplaying the tsunami
You lost me there; You start talking about those made homeless by the physical reality of the tsunami and then move on to complain about bearcats evacuating around Fukushima.
For the record, 500,000 were made homeless by the tsunami, 80,000 by the exclusion zone. See how the tsunami is still the worst offender.
>>dismiss any discussion of the aftereffects of Chernobyl
No, they simply pointed out that it is not as bad as most people think. Most studies show the animals doing fine in the exclusion zone. Cancer rates in humans are not (or barely) measurably higher than normal. There are some areas close to the plant which got huge dose, and you can see problems there (red forest). Just be careful not assume that the whole area is like that.
>>There are reputable scientists who can back up their claims that yes, Chernobyl had an effect on people's health
Yet other reputable scientists are currently investigation why the cancer rates due to Chernobyl are LOWER than expected. There are also studies showing that the stress of the "radiation fear" was actually more deadly than the radiation itself.
>>Fukushima is a huge clusterfuck
Again, I am left wondering how you would describe an accident where thousands died. Try for instance the Halifax Explosion or Bhopal, in the latter case noting the ill health effects by non radioactive chemicals. Sure, things went wrong at Fukushima, but what you need to desperately get is a sense of perspective.
May i suggest
That, now it is clear that any report from a `lobbyist group` is used as proof for one´s own theory/opinion, that you change your tag line from `Biting the hand that feeds IT ` to `Getting nourished by the dick it sucks`?
From the IAEA site; `The IAEA's mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States`
(Although probably only for conspiry theorists nice detail; the current boss of the IAEA is... Japanese!)
"Safe limits for everything. This concept also applies to radiation and radioactive isotopes."
Um, no. You are confusing overdose with safe limit.
Food is something your body needs to survive. It's possible to overdose on one particular kind of food and thus harm your body (e.g. salt) but in general, food is not poison. You can overdose on water but you can't live without it.
Poison is something that harms your body. Your body doesn't need it and you can live quite happily without it. It might tolerate some level of insult from the poison, or it might not. The effects could be immediate or they could be delayed (cancer).
Salt is food.
Radioactive isotopes are poison.
Arguing that nuclear power is A-OK because human cells are "designed to repair DNA damage" doesn't make any sense. It's like saying that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is A-OK because nature has equipped you with a skull.
Arguing that death by salt overdose is just as bad as death by radiation poisoning, therefore nuclear power is A-OK makes no sense either. I can't think of an analogy to point out the absurdity of this argument... it's already extremely absurd in its own right.
As long as nuclear power is used, there is always a risk of catastrophic failure of containment systems. Containment systems at Fukushima failed and there is definitely radioactive cesium in the environment and very probably a number of other long-lived isotopes. In the ocean, this does not magically go away any more than it does on land. It accumulates in the food chain.
The more Chernobyls and Fukushimas occur, the more the planetary ecosystem gets polluted with radiation. Saying that so far the pollution in some places is sometimes the same as background radiation in such and such other place doesn't mean anything. It's like saying a pile of garbage that keeps growing is no problem because it isn't yet as big as a mountain of trash. Why not just stop piling up the garbage?
>>Radioactive isotopes are poison
Will you please stop saying that. No chemical is "poison". There are only doses which are poisonous. This really is not very hard, and it is rather crucial to understanding the point.
>>Arguing that nuclear power is A-OK because human cells are "designed to repair DNA damage" doesn't make any sense
It doesn't make sense to you because it is not what I said. I was talking about your notion of "no safe dose", see it even quoted you in my post. But your lack of ability to read and comprehend is truly frightening.
>>Arguing that death by salt overdose [makes] nuclear power is A-OK makes no sense either
Again, because you can't read or comprehend. At no point did I make such an argument.
>>As long as nuclear power is used, there is always a risk of catastrophic failure
That argument applies to any technology. It is always a matter of risk and return.
>>In the ocean
That has got to be one of the stupidest things you have said yet. Please Google ocean, check out the size, wow is it big. Then check out how many tonnes or radioactive material are in there already.
>>Saying that ... the pollution...is..the same as background radiation ... doesn't mean anything
I would prefer that neither Chernobyl nor Fukushima had happened, but I don't see the point in running scared about a level or radiation which is the same range as natural background levels. You don't run around with a dosimeter and check every building before entering. Why the extra concern in this case? Nuclear testing in the 50s and 60s involved tonnes of bombs world wide. These only increased the average background radiation by 7%. In 2000, that had dropped back down to 0.25% of background. Just for a little perspective on your "the planetary ecosystem gets polluted with radiation" comment. And before you start with “A-OK arguments” again, please try and realise that quoting these facts and figures is not an endorsement for scrapping the test ban treaty. It is merely trying to put your fears into some sort of perspective.
>>Why not just stop piling up the garbage?
Ah, a philosophical argument. Actually, I am not a rapid proponent of nuclear power, but unlike you, I am prepared to read and understand and consider the risks and benefits. You are a hopeless case, so completely confused by your own fear that you cannot think straight. Nuclear power produces LESS toxic waste simply because of the density of power produced.
What precautions do you take to avoid ionising radiation in your life?
So maybe, possibly, there might be a melt-through. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/08/3238720.htm Sounds like they're trying not to give us the bad news all at once.
Fukushima is still a good example of how good engineering not only attempts to minimize the chance of failure, but also set up failure modes to mitigate the effects of worst-case scenarios. As events unfold, it is also becoming a reminder of what is at risk.
There are three parts to risk management: 1) the odds, 2) what you have to gain, and 3) what you risk losing. The problem with nuclear power is not 1 or 2, it's 3. If I wasn't addicted to cheap, plentiful electricity, I'd probably be against it...
"There are three parts to risk management: 1) the odds"
Part of calculating the odds is looking at what failures are possible, and the chances of them happening. Another part of that analysis is looking at the chances of multiple failures. When failures are independent, the total probability is the result of multiplying the individual probabilities, ie it gets smaller as more failure modes are considered, as you might intuitively expect.
When failures aren't independent but cascade consequentially, the probabilities don't multiply, you get basically what you started with. "Failure mode effects analysis (FMEA)" or "fault tree analysis" is the generic term for this kind of analysis. People working in industries where safety is important should be familiar with the terms and the concepts.
The probability of a tsunami going over the wall is 10% in forty years.
The probability of an incoming grid failure is 10% in a year (say).
The probability of a backup generator failure is 10% in a year (say).
Assume those are independent, that the station survives intact unless all three happens, and multiply all that lot together and arguably it looks reasonably safe, considering the benefits.
But they are not independent. If you get a tsunami big enough to go over the wall, your backup generator is inevitably dead  (because the station design didn't plan for this) and the chances of the incoming grid being dead might as well be 100% too. So all three inevitably happen and the station is inevitably in trouble once the first one happened. So is the rest of the country, which is really quite sad, but that is not directly relevant to a discussion on nuclear safety.
Same as the chances of an aircraft impact on a nuclear power station are no longer the low statistical probability of a random aircraft crashing randomly on a random nuclear station; post 9/11 they are now the inevitable certainty that sooner or later someone will plan such a thing and maybe if they are lucky they will get to do it.
Oddly enough, the UK has recently decided that the possibility of, and resistance to, aircraft impact no longer need to be considered as part of the safety case for building a nuclear power station (and unfortunately the EU regulators appear to have been convinced too?).
Still, the nuclear industry and its lobbyists would never lie to us or conceal inconvenient facts or introduce blatant distractions would they, so it must be OK.
 TEPCO hadn't been performing the statutorily required checks on the backup generator so it may not even have needed a three-event cascade to cause the Fukushima consequences. If the backup had an undetected fault it would only have needed a failure of the incoming grid to cause the cooling system to fail. Think about that for a few moments before you inevitably downvote this.
Never give up never surrender
I was missing Lewis Page's "pieces" on Fukushima.
In the meantime here in Japan, 1 million people demonstrated against nuclear. It's a huge number, considering that, culturally, the Japanese hardly ever demonstrate about anything.
Japanese are not happy at all with the deal they got. Yes, maybe nobody has had the chance to develop a cancer yet, and I hope it stays that way.. but the disruption that this caused is enormous.
The quake was a big scare in Tokyo as well.. but it came and went. Now we have to worry about what we eat and what water we drink. There is enough bottled water, but it runs out quickly. Sometimes you are only left with a 2L bottle of water for 600 yen (~$7). Even some Korean water has appeared in the stores.
Is it all just fear ? Really ? Near Fukushima the levels are constantly raised so that kids are "safe again" to play outside the school. What was dangerous yesterday, suddenly becomes safe today.
Of course many parents protest about this, but scolding politicians that try to reduce the perception of danger only gets you so far.. the risk is still there and you either take it for your children or move your life somewhere else ..easier said than done, especially for entire families.
You can color this disaster as pink as you want.. it all started with a rushed article: "no damage done, I love nuclear!".. but the news are worse and worse every day and The Register keeps pretending that it's all fine.
We went from "nothing to see here kids" to admission of much worse radioactive spills than first imagined and now a melt-though.
If you want to risk to live the same situation.. go ahead. In the mean time I know for sure that nuclear power (as in nuclear fission) is all but dead in Japan.. it's not about being easily scared, it's about being there and not wanting to risk living in the same situation again.
1 million people in Japan did not demonstrate against nuclear.
The "one million" number was what the organizers were hoping for, not what they actually got.
They reported the numbers at the biggest demo in Tokyo at 20,000. Nationwide, there's no way they got anything remotely like a million.
On the bottled water thing, go ahead and drink tap water, it's fine. If you insist on bottled water, I don't know where you're shopping, but go somewhere else. There's loads. If you want it cheap, try Costco.
There's no melt-through, have another banana, book a flight to Madras
And stop downplaying the destructive consequences of the tsunami in order to try to clear the decks for your non-existent nuclear armaggedon scenario.
So sayeth the folk tarring and feathering anyone with the temerity to speak up against nuclear power. Geniuses and sage prognosticators they are, all of whom of course are nuclear power plant engineers who just happened to stop by El Reg to set the record straight for poor souls such as the fellow above living in Japan on $7 bottled water thanks to his woefully misinformed notions as to what actually constitutes a nuclear power plant crisis. Nobody has got cancer yet, what is he complaining about anyway? 15 people fell off windmills in the time it took to read this post. And did any people fell off a nuclear power plant? That's right, didn't think so. Now eat your radioactive cesium, a little radiation does a body good!
P.S. "What precautions do you take against radiation in your daily life" as some kind of witty riposte to a thumbs down on Fukushima is like inquiring "soooo... what do you do to avoid inhaling second hand smoke anyway" of someone pointing out a massive forest fire up the hill.
In this whole mess, you'll find any amount of scientists and engineers that will tell you something and then it's opposite, depending on which bias they are inclined or ordered to take.
I'm sure that there are plenty of experts and expert-wannabe that will defend nuclear power to their grave.
I suspect that some of the readers here are stuck with a sense of superiority towards the "common people".
Well, sometimes common sense is actually a good thing.. you don't need to be a scientist to see the trouble that a whole country is going through because of _1_ power plant.
Yes, there was a huge quake and a tsunami, and that's still in the news in Japan, but the worry for that is over now.
So, we can argue and speculate to no end, while trying to predict future cancer rate, or simply pretend that it's all just a walk in the park.. but the point is that people that are living this situation are very eager to get rid of nuclear power now.. and it's all that matters.. because it's the voice of the people that are paying the consequences.. be that mass evacuations, economic downturn or worrying for future health effects.
Incidentally, there have been recent cases of tea leaves officially deemed too radioactive for consumption, found in fields all the way in Chiba and Kanagawa (outside Fukushima and much closer to Tokyo).
..of that, make what you will.
Tea leaves radioactive?
Oh no. Just horrible. And diluting them with hot water? That'll just release all that radiation goodness!
BTW, I'll take a collection to go to Tokyo, tyvm. Consider any level of radiation thus far given have been less than the beaches of Brazil, I'm pretty certain I'll be OK.
And what if I'm not? It's not like you'll care. OTOH, what's the radiation level like where you live? Do you even know?
Here's a "sensible" link to strontium contamination
But I'm sure the wise felows downvoting my posts and lambasting me with ad hominem attacks will be quite happy to blow it off. Particularly since no-one has developed any bone cancer in the last two weeks, it's of no concern.
Normally the Register would be the first to seize upon these little revisions to prior estimates ("Whoops turns out twice as much nasty leaked out as we first told you") and bits of bad news leaked out in dribs and drabs ("Oh you mean *radioactive* strontium? Sure, there's a bit about") as evidence that perhaps not all is as rosy over there by the exploded out-of-control nuclear power plant in the middle of an evacuation zone as the bureaucrats would have us believe.
Instead the Register keeps stubbornly insisting that because no one was flash-fried in the Fukushima debacle, all is hunky-dory, not only with that particular plant, but with nuclear power in general.
It's disappointing. Not only do these ridiculous nuclear cheerleading articles damage the credibility of Page & Orlowski, they damage the credibility of the Register. And pillorying readers who dare to question nuclear power as a safe way to generate electricity, mocking them as anti-Jetsons (whatever the fuck that is supposed to signify), etc. only makes the Register appear all the more petty and small.
It would have served the Register better to keep the Fukushima reporting balanced and factual, and leave the editorializing till at least the plant was brought back under control. Right now too many facts are still unknown.
We do keep seeing articles with revised contamination estimates and "oh by the way" mentions of additional repercussions not discussed previously. Given that it's going to be a good long while before Fukushima is back under control and the evacuation zone lifted, it is extremely poor form (as opposed to the Register's usual brand of witty cheekiness) to go rambling on about how the whole thing is a trumped up scare designed by hippies to put the poor little put-upon innocent nuclear power industry out of business.
I'm a cheerleader
Why? Because of all the ways electricity is generated, nuclear has killed the least number of people.
Because people have used salt to destroy fields of rivals. (google it. It's a known way to kill the farm growth productivity of your enemies.)
Because there are people who happily live productive, healthy lives with background radiation 4-5 times as much as the worst background radiation present in Japan.
Because in output per square foot, there is no more productive way to provide large amounts of electricity.
Because contamination estimates are only numbers. They're scary to you because they're somehow big, but if they don't cause illness or death, they're just numbers.
Because nobody was flash-fried, it's all hunky-dory. Yes, *I* will say it. I'll stand by it, too.
All I ask from you is to quantify what you're upset about. Tell me how many people must die, be injured, etc. from nuclear for you to consider it unsafe. Tell me how to be able to count that number. Don't tell me about contamination. It doesn't matter if it's high, if nobody dies or gets sick.