The meeja are still at it, trying to parley the Fukushima crisis into a disaster and, in the process, handing the bedwetters and neo-luddites large wodges of convenient headlines with which to frighten the masses into the abandonment of the only clean, safe and reliable power generation source which will stop the lights going out as the current generation of power plants comes to the end of its working life. The latest scare tactic is the trumpeting of the fact that the Fukushima crisis has been up-graded to level 7, the highest level on the international scale used to measure these events. ‘It’s another Chernobyl,’ they whinny hysterically, running around in ever decreasing circles and waving their hands frantically in the air. Well, it’s not, nor can it be. It is a serious situation, and I’m not trying to downplay it, but it is contained and the omens, at the moment, are all good for it’s continuing containment. The hype and spin around Fukushima downplays the devastation caused by the actual disaster, a 1,000 year earthquake followed by a 1,000 year tsunami.
The incident at Fukushima Daiichi remains far and away the most minor of the consequences of the quake and tsunami. The nuclear reactors in the stricken provinces came through mostly unscathed (even at the Daiichi site two are expected to return to service, and at other nuclear powerplants in the region no significant damage at all was seen – indeed, survivors of the earthquake and tsunami are being housed in buildings at nuclear facilities which survived the disaster better than most other buildings). One nuclear worker, in a crane cab at the time, was killed by the quake strike at the Daini plant: two were killed by the tsunami at Daiichi. A handful have been injured by the quake and following hydrogen explosions. No-one has been directly, or indirectly, so far, harmed by radiation other than three of the 50 Samurai who were TAKEN TO HOSPITAL WITH RADIATION BURNS, as the headlines screamed. Radiation burns which turned out to be nothing more serious than a mild case of sunburn, (Some UV is ionising radiation, you know, and so is some of the radiation from tanning booth lamps.) Tens of thousands of people were killed by the earthquake, and tsunami and their after-effects as almost all other infrastructure hit by the natural disaster failed catastrophically. Housing, transport and industry across the region collapsed with deadly consequences while oil plants, chemical factories, storage facilities and tanks of every type ruptured and burned, spilling megatonnes of pollution and carcinogens into the environment. But almost nothing is heard of all this, except as a footnote to the supposed radiological hazards resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.
Consider this. When we idiots were still testing nuclear weapons in our atmosphere, global fallout radiation peaked around 1963 at 0.15 millisieverts a year.
And this. At one point at Daiichi, a radiation plume of 400 millisieverts an hour was reported and confirmed.
Remember, that 0,15 millisieverts per year was global fallout radiation for the entire world, or about 500 million square kilometers. The radiation plume of 400 milliseiverts was from a small area of certainly no more than 100 square meters. If we assume that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors collectively manage a plume the size of say, a square kilometer, (because anything smaller won’t generate anything like a ‘reasonable’ number to work with,) then to get comparable numbers we need to multiply the 400/hour by (24 x 365) to get a year’s worth of radiation. Assume uniform distribution and divide by 500 million. That comes out to .007 milliseiverts / year. ( A chest X-ray is a dosage of about 0.1 mSv.) There is no reasonable scenario in which the Japanese reactors could sustain an emission rate of 400 milliseiverts per hour for a week, much less for a year. (Nor could they generate radioactive fallout uniformly over a square kilometer.) In the real world, gamma dose rates are measured daily in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. The values have tended to decrease over time. For Fukushima, on 14 April a dose rate of 2.0 µSv/h was reported. In the Ibaraki prefecture, a gamma dose rate of 0.14 µSv/h was reported. The gamma dose rates in all other prefectures were below 0.1 µSv/h. Note that, apart from Ibaraki, the rates are all below the fallout radiation count of 1963.
And for those who are going to say, ‘But what about the contamination of veggies and such…’ Well, in a few prefectures, I-131 or Cs-137 is detectable in drinking water at very low levels. As of 12 April, one restriction for infants related to I-131 (100 Bq/l) is in place in a smallscale water supply in a village of the Fukushima prefecture. The latest results, in a total of 50 samples of various vegetables, (mushrooms, fruits (strawberries), various meats, seafood and unprocessed raw milk) in ten prefectures (Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Tochigi and Yamagata) taken from 11th to 14 April show that I-131, Cs-134 and/or Cs-137 were either not detected or were below the regulation values set by the Japanese authorities.
I have much more, but I might start to rant, so we’ll see how this goes 🙂