Skip to comments.Time to stop nuke hysteria. Media obsessing over reactors that will probably not kill anyone.
Posted on 03/15/2011 1:35:02 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
IT'S not bad enough that thousands of people may be dead from Japan's earthquake and devastating tsunami. No, the media is instead obsessing over a nuclear reactor that has killed no one and probably never will.
This scaremongering over the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex is extraordinary. Already anti-nuclear activists, rebadged as nuclear "experts", are out spreading terror.
And what's a nuclear holocaust story without Helen Caldicott, actually a paediatrician and anti-nuke hysteric? So there she was, too, on 3AW, warning that if the reactor blew up, "hundreds of thousands of Japanese will be dying within two weeks of acute radiation illness", with countless more later suffering an "epidemic" of cancers.
But wait. Time to check the facts and get some perspective.
Let's start with Ruff. If the Fukushima reactor indeed becomes a "Chernobyl disaster", it will still be as nothing compared with the devastation the Japanese have already suffered.
Right now, rescue workers are combing through the ruins of the seaside cities swamped by the tsunami, looking for 10,000 missing people.
By contrast, Chernobyl, the world's worst nuclear power station disaster, is known to have killed no more than 65.
Yes, I know this doesn't fit with all the horror stories that activists and journalists spread about Chernobyl.
Yes, I know that even the Gillard Government's Education Minister, Peter Garrett, has warned that the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl's shambolic nuclear reactor "caused the deaths of more than 30,000 people".
I know that Sweeney's ACF once published on its website a paper claiming the death toll was actually 250,000 people. And I heard Caldicott on Wednesday trump them all by insisting "nearly a million" died.
But the most reliable assessment of the deaths in that iconic disaster comes instead from the Chernobyl Forum, which represents Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, as well as all relevant United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organisation and International Atomic Energy Agency.
After reviewing countless studies, the forum in 2005 concluded much of the reporting of the deaths was a beat-up.
"Claims have been made that tens or even hundreds of thousands of persons have died as a result of the accident. These claims are highly exaggerated."
In fact, there was "no demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukemia due to radiation in the most affected populations", and no "clear and convincing evidence for a radiation-induced increase in general population mortality".
There was only one exception: thyroid cancer in children, which killed 15. Thankfully, this is treatable, which is why the Japanese authorities are handing out iodine tablets.
To those 15, the Chernobyl Forum added 28 reactor workers who died from acute radiation sickness, three more who died at the explosion from other causes, and 19 who died over the years that followed, from various causes related to the blast.
The deaths of these 65 people is undoubtedly a tragedy. But when set beside the 10,000 feared drowned by this tsunami , they are almost as nothing.
And they represent a fraction of the heartache caused not by the Chernobyl explosion but by the panic merchants who stampeded more than 200,000 women from Italy to Norway into having abortions, through a baseless fear their children would be deformed.
But is Fukushima even likely to become a "Chernobyl-type disaster'?
No, say the true experts.
First, "there is no possibility of a nuclear explosion," Richard Wakeford, of the University of Manchester's Dalton Research Institute, says.
Ziggy Switkowski, former chairman of the Australian Nuclear and Scientific Organisation agrees. There just isn't enough uranium in the reactor.
And don't let the breathless reports of the explosions already at the Fukushima complex fool you.
They are not nuclear explosions, but the detonation of hydrogen released through the emergency cooling process.
These explosions, outside the steel and concrete containment vessels in which the nuclear fuel is held, are very different to the ones at Chernobyl, which occurred within the vessel and tore apart the reactor.
That in turn caused the graphite used in that reactor to catch fire and burn for four days, releasing plumes of highly radioactive waste into the air.
Fukushima, though, uses not graphite but water, which does not burn. What radioactivity has been released is some caesium-137 and iodine-131 carried with the steam that's been vented to ease pressure in the reactors, where the cooling systems have been crippled.
Not healthy, but so far not likely to kill you even if you breathed deeply. And the winds are taking it out to sea.
So far, the vessels containing the fuel rods themselves are intact, and the reactor is also built to contain any "meltdown", avoiding the Hollywood scenario of a "China syndrome", in which the molten reactor core burns right through, figuratively, to China.
Much may yet go wrong. More explosions may crack the containment vessels, potentially releasing radiation.
More steam will be vented. But with the area evacuated, the risk of people being killed is close to nil - except for about 50 brave staff who are taking the chance of being blown up.
With luck, the moral of this emergency may turn out to be the opposite of the one now preached by people who prefer myths to fact, fear to understanding.
Fukushima is one of the oldest of the nuclear power stations that supply a third of Japan's electricity, and has been rocked by the worst earthquakes in Japan in a century.
It has suffered multiple failures of its cooling systems. It has been battered by explosions.
And if it can take all that without cracking ...
Add to that the lessons Japan's experts will learn from this, and these grim days may yet mark the time not when the nuclear industry died, but when it learnt how to survive even an apocalypse.
There's Dr Tilman Ruff, actually a Nossal Institute infectious diseases expert and long-time anti-nukes activist, everywhere warning we might be "looking at a Chernobyl-type disaster or worse" and describing in lascivious detail the ways people could get sick from the fallout.
There's Dave Sweeney, actually a professional activist from the Australian Conservation Foundation with a lack of formal qualifications in nuclear science, warning that the reactor was potentially like a kettle without water, and "sooner or later, it superheats and it blows".
I don’t know for this particular thing yet, but I would say certainly for your emergency preparedness kits, you bet.
Punched Charlie Sheen's ticket, though.
This is kind of what they were worried about, the spent fuel pools need to also be kept cool by pumped water and the difference is that they aren’t in a containment vessel.
Wow that should make her lose her job right there. CBS ought to be embarrassed that much.
From your link, I gather: Very high levels are not being emitted from #4, but if the water level drops through boiling off and if they can’t get more water on the rods, there could be very high consequences.
What did you get from it?
Your wrong. I’m sure it was more than 14 billion that died from Chernobyl.
RE: I trust Katie.
I’m surprised she never used the words “Climate Change” or (the now discarded) “Global Warming”. Those words have been used to put blame ANY NATURAL DISASTER.
RE: Holy crap!!! Quit watching horror movies.
After so many responses to buzzer and after re-reading his post, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. He probably forgot to mention that he was being factious.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t though.
There is on Freeper on who is absolutely nuts about all this.
Can’t remember his name right at the moment, but he/she is definitely besides themselves over this.
“There is on Freeper on who is absolutely nuts about all this.”
Should have said:
There is ONE Freeper...
Typing faster than I can think...
I was being hyperbolic.
Fake but accurate.
Not that 4% is child's play, but again, it's not the end of the world.
That chart is wrong. Nuclear is 20% of US power generation.
“Time to stop nuke hysteria. Media obsessing over reactors that will probably not kill anyone. “
So...then, I suppose we will start seeing all the bs about “nuke-denial, etc.”
it never ends...
I think that chart (Energy Sources in the U.S.) includes all energy, including vehicles like cars, trucks, aircraft, etc.