Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Still More Fukushima Obsfucation

  • Tom Engelhardt says "it looks ever grimmer as talk of days until the nuclear crisis subsides reluctantly slips into weeks and the weeks into months" and notes that "few are willing to look into the abyss and really wonder about the worst that could happen" — Glow in the Dark Euphemisms as the Japanese Nuclear Crisis Worsens.

  • One of those "willing to look into the abyss and really wonder about the worst that could happen" is Chris Whitney, who writes, "Conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are deteriorating and the doomsday scenario is beginning to unfold" — Is Fukushima About to Blow? "The Fukushima fiasco is gaining pace putting tens of thousands of people at risk of thyroid cancer, childhood leukemia and other life-threatening ailments."

  • "Nearly all of these experts who appear and pontificate have not actually done any research on the issue of radiation and health," writes Chris Busby, calling them "criminally irresponsible, since their advice will lead to millions of deaths" — Deconstructing Nuclear Experts.

  • Der Spiegel reports on "how little experts know about the dangers that still lurk on the grounds of the ill-fated plant" and quotes Wolfram König, head of Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection, as calling this "an ongoing, massive release of radioactivity" that "isn't over by a long shot" and "already is a partial meltdown" — How Dangerous Is Japan's Creeping Nuclear Disaster?
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    Blogger Francis Xavier said...

    It is only fair to note that, whatever ultimately happens, when TEPCO takes almost two weeks to work up the courage to ask outsiders for help - it was only on Monday that they asked Areva, the nuclear power plant company in France, the world's leader in nuclear engineering, for help, and reportedly refused to accept American help in the crucial first days of the accident, that the problems there are not due to nuclear power per se, but to a culture that does not allow people to ask for help when it would be highly prudent, and does not allow thoughtful and necessary criticisms to be properly debated.

    7:20 PM  
    Blogger The Western Confucian said...

    Indeed. I remember after the Kobe Earthquake, when Japan rejected the help of a team offering dogs from Mexico, which had experienced such a quake a decade earlier. Of course, our American government rejected outside help after Katrina.

    Hubris. Humility would have been the proper response.

    7:43 PM  
    Blogger The Western Confucian said...

    This Reuters report disturbs -- Japan finds plutonium in soil at stricken nuclear plant:

    "'Plutonium is a substance that's emitted when the temperature is high, and it's also heavy and so does not leak out easily,' agency deputy director Hidehiko Nishiyama told a news conference.

    "'So if plutonium has emerged from the reactor, that tells us something about the damage to the fuel. And if it has breached the original containment system, it underlines the gravity and seriousness of this accident.'"

    9:41 PM  
    Blogger Francis Xavier said...

    What particularly disturbs about the Reuters report is that it doesn't mention how much plutonium was found, other than quoting a TEPCO executive that they were negligible.

    Journalists have a vested interest in hyping disasters; it was all but certainly within their power to ascertain the values, or reveal that they couldn't. What is one to read between the lines?

    10:22 PM  
    Blogger Pints in NYC said...

    We're already getting reports of radioactive rain as far "east" as New England.

    This is in my backyard now. I don't care about TEPCO's samurai code.

    They should have dumped lead and boric-laced concrete into the reactors on day one.

    And to think, all this time we were afraid of what the NORKs would do maliciously. Seems like our own allies are quite capable of ruining things voluntarily.

    6:20 AM  
    Blogger Fr. Dismas said...

    I agree with you about hubris, both on their shores and ours. If human lives (and in Japan, livability within a good-size radius) are at stake, swallow your infernal pride and hand the foreign aid workers and experts a shovel and whatever else they need.

    8:33 AM  
    Blogger The Western Confucian said...

    Francis Xavier, yes, there is much reading between the lines tro be done. Hyping disaters sells copy, but playing then down pleases the owners. It's a fine line.

    Pints, Korea sent tons of boric acid to Japan. I don't know it ot was used.

    Father, amen.

    10:16 PM  
    Blogger Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

    @Pints -- have you heard HOW MUCH radiation?

    the consensus is 8-10 million millirems per excess cancer.

    Natural exposure adds up to ~100-300 millirem a year per person; 25 millirem from radioactive isotopes in our own bodies. Variables include altitude, stone vs. wood construction (stone is more radioactive; in fact, the US Capitol is more radioactive than EPA regulations permit for a low-level waste dump), how much time you spend outside, how often you fly, whether you use a tanning bed or get X-rays, etc.

    I can't speak for Chernobyl or Fukushima, but the total release from TMI was around 2 million millirems -- distributed amongst I don't know how many people.

    4:23 AM  
    Blogger The Western Confucian said...

    The question should not be how much radiation, but how much radiocative material, i.e. fallout. Hirose Takashi explains tha "damage from radioactive rays and damage from radioactive material are not the same" — What They're Covering Up at Fukushima:

    "What is dangerous is when that material enters your body and irradiates it from inside. These industry-mouthpiece scholars come on TV and what to they say? They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. I want to say the reverse. Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body. What happens? Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. That’s a thousand times a thousand: a thousand squared. That’s the real meaning of 'inverse ratio of the square of the distance.' Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion. Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger."

    He concludes, "We need to know what kind of radioactive materials are escaping, and where they are going – they don’t have a system in place for doing that now."

    6:24 AM  

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