back to article Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

The situation at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan was brought under control days ago. It remains the case as this is written that there have been no measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant or anybody else, and all indications are that this will remain …

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Boffin

From the IAEA website

I follow the news here:

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

Apparently they've stopped the experiment to see how long a steel reactor could contain pressurised boiling seawater and have started to cool with fresh water again.

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FAIL

Due to the unique way that it is funded...

I see the BBC are continuing with their "quality" reporting at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12869184 (Japan nuclear plant: Radioactivity rises in sea nearby)

Regarding "Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit," they quote Hidehiko Nishiyama (spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency) as saying "And, since [the iodine] has a half-life of eight days, by the time people eat the sea products its amount is likely to have diminished significantly.", but completely misinterpret it as "the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days".

I think that Chris Hogg (in Tokyo) must have drunk too much bottled water!

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Dead Vulture

Reg! Get 2 medics! One to explain this event properly, the other to section the delusional writer

<rant>

Lewis - Register's resident troll.

The main characteristics of these articles over the last couple of weeks have been:

a) Remarkable ignorance of the medical effects of radiation

e.g. the assumption that because workers haven't died yet that they have not been subjected to lethal exposures. This isn't just cancers (of many sorts), but serious cardiac problems, gastrointestinal damage and mental retardation.

* Over many years (assuming they survive for long - some will)

* Affecting any offspring, and their children, and so on... (this is well documented in medical literature - it's not new)

b) Piss-poor arithmetic.

* e.g. describing Cs-137 as a "short-lived isotope" (contaminates radioactively for 300-odd years, and chemically extremely toxic forever).

* characterising doses 100s and 1000s of times above background as "low".

*

c) Lack of any attempt to rectify (a)

So evangelical about supporting the industry's attempts to save itself, and the vested interests of many governments, has this ex-engineer been that he hasn't been able to research radioactivity in sufficient depth to get some simple facts straight.

* e.g. if you care to study around the subject you will find that the main reason that Chernobyl is able to be down-played by some today is because most of the proper research was written in Russian in Russian journals.

The mix in scientific understanding between the USSR and "the West" during the Cold War was not huge, and only slowly has it come together.

* Among even just the Chernobyl liquidators, the disaster played a highly significant role in the deaths of at least 100,000 of them. Almost all the others are extremely sick (See 'Battle of Chernobyl' on YouTube)

This event brings a lot of things together:

1 global political - nuclear industry - military self interest

2 Astonishingly impressive complex engineering (going wrong)

3 Well understood radiological and toxic effects of the substances involved - ignored here.

4 Well documented medical consequences of exposure - this is frequently countered by (1) because they can always deny that an individual's diseases & conditions are linked to their exposure (see 'self-interest').

Epidemiological studies are not easy as there is no cut-off point which constitutes 'no exposure' in a population, but the effects of some historical exposures are so large that the evidence is overwhelming - and backed up by the basic science.

http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/chernobyl

http://www.ifyoulovethisplanet.org

Battle of Chernobyl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv3a4LXi_qc

So, Lewis, stick to what you know about and keep moaning about how much money we spend on shit jets, and Register - try and get your contributors to talk about things they aren't totally pig-ignorant about!

</rant>

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Boffin

Chernobyl - Definitive Study

The most exhaustive study to date on the Chernobyl catastrophe, spearheaded by Dr. Alexey Yablokov and esteemed colleagues, estimates 1 million deaths attributable to the Chernobyl radiation, based on review of over 1,000 scientific papers published in the former USSR.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2010/2010-04-26-01.html

Undoubtedly Lewis would take crack-shots at this research, due to insufficient controls. This may be a valid criticism, but provides no reason to throw away the entire research. The fact is using proper controls is expensive if not impossible given the lack of data; what is worse is the ridiculous IAEA and WHO conclusions of only a few hundred deaths, which are achieved by a conscious sticking of the head into the sand AND DOING NO RESEARCH WHATSOEVER. Somehow no research is supposed to be more reliable than 1,000 scientific papers - in the pro-nuclear "I love the taste of fresh plutonium in the morning" crowd.

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Happy fish

1,000 feet out to sea the radioactive iodine levels are 1250 times legal limit... yummy fish. Wonder if thats the 8 days to half life variety 131 or the 15,000,000 years to half-life variety 129? It's great to visit this site for the pro-nuclear view - it's a nice counter to the "we're all going to die" conspiracy sites... but really would you want your kids to be living within 50 miles of Fukushima right now or indeed ever again? Let's not get too evangelical for nuclear.

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Lewis Page becomes increasingly desperate

So, on Sunday 27th March more news of increasing radiation levels, Japanese government gets increasingly irritated with TEPCO.

What this shows is that while nuclear power is a lot safer than coal, it's too tricky to be entrusted to ordinary commercial management (or, of course, Communist bureaucratic management).

What is needed is not shrill denials of the risks, but sober consideration of the proper way to manage them.

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Silver badge
FAIL

"nuclear power is a lot safer than coal"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/us/27sludge.html

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OMG

Lewis says we're safe, we're all going to die!

Seriously though, this is putting the situation in the best possible light,maybe a good counter to some of the more panicy news stories, but still, very much a gloss over a situation were the Japanese gov are definitely being somewhat "cautious" about what they tell people.

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Alien

Another day, another sievert

Unfortunately, despite Lewis' best efforts, the power station persists in poisoning workers and the surrounding land and sea, and as of now appears to be getting worse.

Looking forward to Lewis' last article, as the glowing slime engulfs us all.

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WTF?

Lewis, you're bringing discredit to yourself

While the immediate fatalities and injuries from this accident will probably be limited to people on the facility grounds, even on the 25th it was obvious there were measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant and indications that it would only get worse.

Properly regulated, monitored and managed, nuclear power is the safest and cleanest form of energy, safer and cleaner then wind turbines even (which have been responsible for 73 deaths), and far cleaner than coal power, which kills 17,000 US residents per year with its pollution.

Burying our heads in the sand over the fatal accident at Fukashima will not promote public confidence.

1. Ancient reactors need to be retired from service as originally scheduled, and new safer reactors built to replace them.

2. Governments need to have their own independent radiation monitoring equipment in and around nuclear power plants.

3. The world must ensure that no country's politicians or business people are allowed to corrupt nuclear industry regulators or plant operators to keep unsafe plants open or to keep plants operating unsafely.

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Wish it was better news but it keeps on getting worse...

IAEA reports detail workers were exposed to 2-6 Sv in contaminated water... This is just an ugly situation and likely confirms loss of primary containment.

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Alert

Well, that took some time

That announcement is stamped "Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (27 March 2011, 03:00 UTC)" but I can't remember seeing it 28th March 0100 UTC.

Sitting on it, are they?

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Anonymous Coward

I think that the authors underestimate the risk of radiation-related cancer

"if children and young people drank milk .... their chances of getting cancer increased BY approximately 0.02 per cent."

This is incorrect. According to the authors' own ref (www.iaea.org/newscenter/features/chernobyl-15/thyroid.shtml) there were 4000 kids affected. 4000 out of 18000000 is 0.02%

In other words, the correct statement should have been that "their chances of getting cancer increased TO approximately 0.02 per cent". This is a lot. 2 out of every 10000 children.

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doses

the difference between 'they got 170 msieverts' and 'water of a dose of 6 or 7' is because of the different radiation, surely?

Their dose meters are worn and mainly detect gamma rays, they wouldn't see much of the beta-ray (electrons) that they got from allowing water into their boots. So the discrepancy isn't that unexpected is it?

Beta gets stopped by the tiniest of things, but they won't be well off if they got any of that water into their bloodstream, though again, surely only a tiny fraction would get into the bloodstream? I guess you'd compare with a blacksmith putting his hand on some hot iron ? external burns, but should be non-life threatening.

tepco have given out lots of information, what they haven't done is given it out in technical form but watered down for journalists. I suspect other reasons they haven't said wether things like 'what the real damage is to the core' is , because it's an extremely damaged nuclear reactor in the middle of a disaster zone that has massive amounts of radiation near it...

who's gunna go near it to measure it?

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Interesting....

"NISA" the Japanese equivalent of the HSE over here, has issued an assay of the radioactive content of the water found in the basement of Fukushima r3.

it's accessible here - "regarding the result of concentration measurement..."

http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/

It's a very odd mixture, but a couple of thing stand out. One, there are no actinides. Two, there's a strikingly low concentration (even when you've adjusted for relative activity) of shorter lived isotopes. I've done a really crude analysis of the relative abundance of I 131 and Cs 136 compared to Cs 134, compared to their equilibrium levels in fuel in an operating core. They give differing results, but both suggest they're from fuel that's been out of the reactor for a minimum of 12 months.

I'm buggered if I can see where the Chlorine and Lanthanum come from, though - albeit that they're tiny traces.

That could be way out, because doing this properly is a much bigger job, integrating production rates and decay, but it suggests strongly that this is water that's been exposed to fuel in the fuel pond, not recently in the core

If this is right, it's a "good news/bad news" case. The good news is that it suggests no compromise to the reactor containment (which is consistent with it holding pressure). The bad news is that it confirms fuel damage to the stuff in the fuel pond of at least this reactor. But, the lack of actinides implies it's can damage, not that the ceramic fuel proper.

It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

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Anonymous Coward

interesting analysis

> both suggest they're from fuel that's been out of the reactor for a minimum of 12 months.

So now they know where the water from the storage ponds went?

Those ponds hold hundreds of tons of material, and it has always seemed likely that the shaking from the quake cracked something and caused a leak. Unsurprisingly the staff were concentrating on cooling the freshly shut-down reactors, and someone probably took their eye off the water level gauges for the presumed less-urgent storage pools.

How long will it take to dig & line a big hole, to pump this stuff into?

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There's the small point they've spreayed a few thousand tonnes of water

in the general direction of a pond where the level indicators are inoperative. If anything, they're more likely to have overfilled it, and had water draining out that way...

As to disposal, the numbers I saw for R3 were about 3.9 million bequerels per cc of I131. so, 3.9*10^9 per litre (using Iodine as the example), that's about 9 * 10^-4 grammes per litre.

So, if you were to assume there's a tonne of water, there's about 0.9 of a gramme of Iodine dispose of. Not much of a problem. You could probably sell it to a university lab somewhere.

If you want to check my numbers, it's done by taking the half-life in seconds, and then doing (ln 2 )/ (half-life in seconds) to get the decay constant. Then divide the bequerel number by the decay constant to get total number of aroms present. Then multiply by atomic weight, and divide by avogadro's constant.

,

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Chemicals

"I'm buggered if I can see where the Chlorine and Lanthanum come from, though"

From bleach spilled from the janitor's closet and broken light bulbs?

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Interesting to see how this shakes out....

The earthquake make actually have caused some water to spill from the pools due to the extreme violence of the shaking, it may also have caused some of the spent fuel elements to dislodge from their stacking. We don't really know. but between that and the potential over-filling of the pools to ensure that they remain full, it's entirely possible that some of the water that is quite heavily contaminated has spilled from those pools without there being any real damage to the nuclear fuel itself, although as you say the casings are another story.

But the thing is, no one has ever said that the casings are undamaged. All the media reports I have seen have focused on the fuel in the reactors or fuel in the spent fuel ponds and always the discussion is about the fuel itself melting, burning and being released. The discussions are always framed as if it is a foregone conclusion that the fuel rod casings have failed catastrophically, except of course, that's not how they are designed.

I don't know exactly what to think of all of the mis-reporting going on. I do know that as long as whatever substances are found in the water inside the reactor buildings or power station site remain within those confines, the impact of the releases will be relatively limited compared to the impact of say, a chemical plat fire, or a refinery fire. or for that matter an oil-spill. But regardless of the truth of that, the limited and relatively contained release of these materials at fukushima will be reported with apocalyptic terms that do not attach to other industrial accidents that have worse consequences.

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Oh dear

So the world has divided into "Chernobyl-denyers" and "radiophobes". Great, that's going to help informed, rational debate. So what has Chernobyl-denyer-in-chief ignored in his latest tirade?

"Extremely high radiation found in soil"

Japanese authorities have detected a concentration of a radioactive substance 1,600 times higher than normal in soil at a village, 40 kilometers away from the troubled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture..... The results announced on Wednesday show that 163,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram of soil has been detected in Iitate Village, about 40 kilometers northwest of the plant. Gakushuin University Professor Yasuyuki Muramatsu, an expert on radiation in the environment, says that normal levels of radioactive cesium-137 in soil are around 100 becquerels at most. The professor says he was surprised at the extremely high reading, which is 1,630 times higher than normal levels. He warns that since radioactive cesium remains in the environment for about 30 years it could affect agricultural products for a long time. He is calling on the government to collect detailed data and come up with ways to deal with the situation.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/23_28.html?play

"he nuclear safety agency said tests on Friday showed radioactive iodine had spiked 1,250 times higher than normal in the seawater just offshore the plant."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8408419/Japan-nuclear-crisis-Radioactive-seawater-surrounds-stricken-plant.html

I guess the above articles were written by radiophobes, desperately trying to show nuclear power in a bad light. In fact, radiation is very beneficial to your health, after all, cancer is cured with radiation from nuclear power stations!

And remember folks, the gubbingment/nuke power industry are desperate for all the new stations to get approved on a nod, we can't have no-nothing radiophobic Joe Public throwing a spanner in the gravy train works.

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"concentration of a radioactive substance"

This says nothing except that the bit of soil analysed is radioactive. It might have been radioactive for 40 years, maybe since the construction of the reactor?

Unless they do a comparative analysis for several elements they won't be able to work out if this is related to the Fukushima incident or not, and so until then this is just further scaremongering.

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FAIL

misleading at best

Dear Author:

Your article "Fukushima scaremongers" is misleading with the information that it cites (or rather references but does not cite). I'm a big fan of citing information, so the WHO information on mSv exposure can be found at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs257/en/

Exposure to radiation is not just measured in mSv, but mSv over time. The WHO says "Occupational exposure should not exceed an effective dose of 20 mSv per year averaged over five consecutive years or an effective dose of 50 mSv in any single year. An equivalent dose to the extremities (hands and feet) or the skin should not surpass 500 mSv in a year."

Your article does not note that the workers in the plant have been exposed to the amount of radiation in about two weeks, rather than a year, and that workers are subject to continued exposure. In Koriyama, 60 miles West of the plant, radiation levels are about 3.09 mSv PER HOUR. According to the WHO "the general public should not receive a dose of more than 1 millisievert (mSv) in a year."

In addition, your article does not the difference between 'effective dose' and 'equivalent dose'. Effective dose is used in radiation protection regarding the risks caused by a uniform exposure of the whole body. Equivalent dose, which is the 500 mSv exposure you cite, is used to compare radiation doses on different body parts on an equivalent basis because radiation does not affect different parts in the same way.

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WTF?

What?

"In Koriyama, 60 miles West of the plant, radiation levels are about 3.09 mSv PER HOUR."

What the hell are you smoking? Where are the data that show this is true?

The latest map here:

http://www.grs.de/sites/default/files/ODL-Werte-Poll_110327-1715.pdf

definitely does not show anything like that kind of nuclear dusting.

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Terminator

Thumbs down, eh?

"Two IAEA teams are currently monitoring in Japan. One team made gamma dose-rate measurements in the Tokyo region at 8 locations. Gamma dose-rates measured ranged from 0.08 to 0.15 microsievert per hour, which is within or slightly above the normal background. The second team made additional measurements at distances of 30 to 41 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose-rates ranged from 0.9 to 17 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.03 to 3.1 Megabecquerel per square metre."

You get more rads from the granite in your kitchen.

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Boffin

Data, Smata

"Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn."

How do you know this was a "mild sunburn". Are you their doctor, or did this assessment fly out of your behind? Because I follow this news and there has been no announcement as to their condition. If I missed something, please, link. Otherwise, I am sure you will volunteer to drink some of the "safe" water they stepped in, yes?

As to your comment: "None of this involves significant health hazards: actual radiation sickness is not normally seen until a dose of 1,000 millisievert and is not common until 2,000".

But according to the NRC (which is basically a captured agency controlled by the nuclear industry), "it is believed that 50% of a population would die within thirty days after receiving a dose of between ... 3500 to 5000 [millisievert] to the whole body, over a period ranging from a few minutes to a few hours." http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/bio-effects-radiation.htm. Many other organizations have more conservative estimates. Moreover these estimates are based on skin-exposure, rather than consumption - hence the tap water situation is far graver than equivalent exposure on the skin.

You want us to believe that at 2,000 mSv it's just some minor sickness, but at 3,500 mSv, 50% die?

Sorry your nuclear stocks aren't performing well - NOT!

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More that 2000mSv

From the International Atomic Agency Organization:

"For two of the three workers, significant skin contamination over their legs was confirmed. The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers' legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts."

Note: 2 to 6 sieverts is 2000 to 6000 mSv

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Hyper Rescue Firefighters?

I guess no sugar cubes or choccy bars are needed for these guys then...

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FAIL

the poor irradiated worker...

...let's analyze his case a bit more. :)

i'll drop some hints and facts:

the sievert is the energy dose (gray, joule/kg == energy/absorbing mass) multiplied with the radiation weighting factor. the radiation weighting factor (which determines the "effectiveness" for damaging human tissue) for beta and gamma radiation is 1, so sievert == gray.

it's different for alpha or neutron radiation, but as alpha radiation is shielded by even a piece of paper (or skin) and neutron radiation is not as much of a concern, let's ignore that.

so, let's have a look at all the isotopes in nuclear reactors. I-131, Cs-137, and the like. they emit gamma radiation. yes. but only because the daughter nuclide is in an excited state after radioactive decay. the above famous "nuclear reactor products" both undergo BETA decay, while the I-131 betas have a mean range of <50cm in air, and the Cs-137 range ~150cm in air. in AIR, mind you, not in water. Cs-137's average betas can only travel 20cm in water... and there are isotopes like Sr-90 in NPPs, too, which are (almost) pure beta emitters.

...so, the big difference is the RANGE in a medium. gamma radiation can travel very far, while particle radiation - such as beta radiation - has a rather limited range.

okay, next fact: tactical dosimeters are to be worn in a "representative" spot for the body. and that is NOT the leg. within my country, the law says civil defense crews / firefighters HAVE to wear their personal dosimeters on the UPPER TORSO POCKET of their jacket / protective gear. that's quite far away from the leg.

so, let's remind ourselves... beta particles... low range in air, and even more so in water... and a distance of approx. 90cm between the lower leg and the upper chest level, where the dosimeter must be located.

also, let's see... the bad protective gear was to be blamed - the water got into the shoes of the workers and contaminated their legs. only because of that, they received these radiation burns. they should've been wearing rubber boots, like some of the other workers.

...hey, wait. if RUBBER BOOTS made the difference between one worker being fine and the other one having a radiation burn on their leg, guess who's to blame - yes, the beta particle! a gamma ray would not care about boots, it just moves right through that rubber. to shield HALF of Cs-137's gamma radiation, you'd need to make your boots from 3mm+ lead, not from rubber!

...one extreme example is Litvinenko. he "ingested" Polonium-210, a PURE alpha emitter. had he been wearing a dosimeter such as the workers in fukushima have, it would've read ZERO mSv as he died. now, do you think he died of the bad british food...? :-)

by the way, beta emitters are widely used in radiation therapy, too. we make people ingest I-131 to treat e.g. thyroid cancer - the thyroid will receive such a high dose, it can - in the best case / optimal and homogenous uptake - DESTROY the organ (and tumor) completely due to the high dose of radiation - however, e.g. the BRAIN (which is not all that far from your neck) stays safe. you'll just have a bit of a throat inflammation, but that's all it can get at.

also, if somebody ever looked into how teletherapy (radiation therapy from a distance - Cs-137 can and was used for that, too, to keep in line with mentioning our "fukushima fallout isotopes"), you'll know a normal (!) daily (!) dose (LOCAL dose, of course) of 2000-3000 mSv (!) will not do anything at all at first. it will take a week or two until even the slightest "sunburn" (radiation dermatitis) occurs. thus, to cause immediate (!!) redness and even blistering of the skin (like a severe sunburn), you'd have to expose your skin to much, MUCH more than that. so yeah, you'll work out of radiation therapy, with the tumor on your leg having received its target dose of 80,000 mSv (80 Gy; common dose over the course of a few weeks of therapy), your leg will likely be suffering from radiation dermatitis, but the dosimeter on your chest will still just show... 170 mSv. :-P

well, okay, that's enough with the hints - go figure. :-)

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FAIL

BBC quoting officials confuse one half-life with safety

BBC: "Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the ....Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit... ...the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days, officials say."

The half-life of Iodine-131 is eight days, at which point the levels would be reduced by half, or still 625 times the safety limit. Relying on decay alone will require a bit more than TEN 8-day half-lives, or about three months.

Ocean mixing will obviously help to disperse the plume. But that would be unpredictable, and would have little to do with "eight days".

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a whole three months....

And thats's, of course, you assume no dispersal.

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Paris Hilton

Widening the scope now ...

Quarter million people in evacuation centres.

Empty hotels.

I wonder if there is an equation or an action that might be able to bring these two observables together?

A possible consequence?

Why transport stuff to the evacuation areas when people might be accommodated in relatively resource rich areas? Rather than move stuff that is much needed, move people instead?

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Counting the cost other ways

There are a great number of people living in makeshift camps who would no doubt disagree with the author about the seriousness of the situation. The reason there probably won't be significant numbers of deaths is that there has been a mass evacuation.

The time to decide that this wasn't a catastrophe will be when hundreds of thousands of people are allowed back to their homes, possessions and livelihoods again. Counting bodies is not the only way to measure the effects of a radiation accident.

I'm not an extremist; I expect that in the absence of a Chernobyl style fire the effects of a significant reactor core breach will primarily be confined to the exclusion zone and the death count small. But chuntering about "sunburn" is just ignorance.

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Job for Lewis?

With Lewis' impressive amount of spin, someone wrap him in copper wire, stick him between the poles of a big magnet and he could generate more than enough electricity to replace a reactor or two.

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But chuntering about "sunburn" is just ignorance.

So, how come doses up to ten times the worst possibility of what's happened to those workers - localised doses, in just the same manner - are routine in radiotherapy?

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Careful Andy, you're letting facts get in the way

...letting facts get in the way of a good hyperbolic statement...

;)

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FAIL

Because

radiotherapy is used in cases where the alternative is worse. The point of radiotherapy is to KILL CELLS. You do that to avoid consequences that are worse, like recurrence of tumours, not because it's good for you, you berk.

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@nichomach

You are missing the rather obvious point that people don't just drop dead from the side effects of radiotherapy, even though the doses are huge.

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which doesn't change the fact that the surrounding tissue

to the tumour under treatment is routinely subject to radiation on the order of tens of sieverts, and routinely recovers. The worst that seems to happen in 99.999% of cases is some formation of scar tissue.

the reason why it's done isn't the issue - it's the response of the tissue itself, of course.

In fact, I've just come across something that I found rather startling. That radiotherapy is actually used to treat some forms of non-malignant scar tissue. Presumably, the physicians that adminster that aren't overly worried about the cancer or radiation sickness risks

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News flash - All medicines are also poisons

Here's a newsflash for you Nichomach.

If you take too much Tylenol (paracetamol) you can die. Too much of any prescription medicine, and you can die. If you OD on simple vitamins, you can die.

The key is the dose.

But since you're so dead set on how radiotherapy "kills cells", what do you think anti-biotics do? anti-biotics are not specific weapons with surgical precision that kill only germs. Anti-biotics kill a lot of host cells beside the germs they are intended to take out. The bacteria in the human gut, those wonderful bugs necessary for our digestive processes to work are routinely slaughtered by anti-biotic use. the reason you feel sick with a high dose anti-biotic is that it's a toxin that you are taking as a medicine. it's killing small parts of you as well as the germs. So we ban such medicines because there is a risk? Or do we manage the risk by correct dosing?

When it comes to environmental contaminants people run around like headless chickens because of radioactive contamination. It's often said that people fear nuclear contamination because it's invisible. Well, sure it is, it's not always possible with the naked eye to spot such contamination. Fine. However, you can easily detect and localize the contamination using a Geiger counter. Radiation is easily detected. How easy is it to detect other invisible and tasteless environmental contaminants such as say...dioxin? There are any number of chemical contaminants released by industry that we can't easily detect without sampling and lab work, and yet they are all at least as dangerous as nuclear contamination.

As for being a 'berk', I'm not the one making uninformed comments on a highly technical subject,.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

Stop

And you're determinedly missing the actual point

which is that you administer radiotherapy because a medical assessment has been made that this is the least bad option in comparison to, for instance, the risk of cancer recurring. That doesn't mean that it does not have persistent, indeed perhaps permanent, harmful effects, that just makes it the least bad choice. Unless of course you're advocating irradiation to those levels as some sort of spa cure...

Acknowledging that is simple common sense, and does not mandate or even imply banning anything, so send the straw man back, Dorothy'll be missing him (although apparently both you and he could still do with a brain...).

Yes, dosage is important in a medical context with regard to just about any therapy, as is assessment of risk versus benefit for the patient, but the people currently being exposed are being exposed to that risk with no medical (or arguably any other) justification.

Now, I'm not running around like a headless chicken by pointing out that unnecessary or negligent exposure to greatly increased levels of radiation is a bad thing. Nor am I by pointing out that the use of radiation in the context of medical treatment is accompanied by an assessment that treatment is required and that radiotherapy, while it has attendant hazard, is the least bad option. In general I am in favour of nuclear energy as a reasonable component of a balanced energy policy. However, by the same token, nor am I the one burying my head in the sand with my fingers in my ears yelling "lalalalalala no problem here! The radiation's lovely!" while people are being exposed to significant danger of harm or worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh...

You know I want to agree with Lewis's POV, but he makes it difficult with all this hysterical calm-mongering. He needs to tone it down a bit. A lot.

Wrt the plant workers: they stepped into a pool of water and received a completely unexpected regulations-breaching dose of radiation, and nobody can explain how it got there. Isn't that cause for concern? Just a little bit?

And one can hardly blame the Tokyo water authorities for respecting existing health regulations, which presumably were instituted for a good reason.

Would he prefer that these incidents were covered up? That would be a good way to prevent them being inaccurately reported...

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Who said noboby can explain?

There's 1000's of gallons of water that have been pumped into these buildings that has become irradiated and contaminated. If you check the reports at the IAEA you'll find that they are actively working on pumping that water from the basements into the condensers to remove it. Just because you haven't read it somewhere doesn't mean that the information doesn't exist or is being withheld.

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Oooh something balanced on the beeb

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12860842

Read this, whilst a little basic and patronising to some it does make the point rather well that there are bigger things to wory about than Fukushima.

People would do well to understand a lot more about the posibble consequences and risks before going off on one.

Calm down (but please do continue) Lewis - your basically sound and valid message is sometimes coloured by your frustration.

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Paris Hilton

Quote via the beeb...

"People worry about radiation because they cannot feel it. However, nature has a solution - in recent years it has been found that living cells replace and mend themselves in various ways to recover from a dose of radiation."

Like go easy on the potassium iodide! And there is increasing evidence that treatment with *melatonin* which assists cells in self-repairing is generally more appropriate as a long term treatment. Commercially controlled and a real bugger to get hold of in any large quantities tho.

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Anonymous Coward

@snellasaurus

Something balanced from the beeb? Well sort of, but their entire output is not balanced. Most of what people get from the BBC would suggest that everybody in Japan is going to die or grow three heads in the next couple of weeks. Their output on the subject is still heavilly biased towards scaremongering. Publishing the occasional rational story does little to redress the balance.

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Big Brother

Next nuclear quake disaster?

Hey Santiago got a couple of old nuke stations too! This morning there was a 5.4 106 miles SSW of there. HAARP was reading 2.8Hz ELF which some (including the BBC) immediately took to be the 6.1 off the E coast of Japan (Odd when they failed to report previous similar aftershocks). I've figured all the stuff down in Japan was reading 2.5Hz while 2.8Hz is much similar to previous Chili quakes. So the bets are on and i'm sticking with Santiago for now. Laterz....

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Overreaction

The author is overreacting to the media overreacting to Fukushima, and employing many of the same behaviors to do so. And another thing:

""BSE: it's not over yet" [yes it was],"

It might not be for people who ate a lot of McDonalds in the 80s.

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