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".
What we need is someone good at explaining the difference between radiation emitted by the reactor vs radioactive fallout. Maybe even some decent drawings.
I personally describe the reactor as a lightbulb. The “light” emitted from it isn’t carried by the wind. Radioactive dust and smoke are carried by the wind.
In the meantime there was just another explosion in the past few minutes..
Don’t worry though, all is well.
There is no such thing, in the liberal mind, as a tragedy that can’t be exploited.
Remain calm. Everything is under control.
I’m more worried about the return of Godzilla.
I’m still waiting for the seafloor to cave in after the BP spill. Or am I waiting to die because of the dispersant used?
RE: In the meantime there was just another explosion in the past few minutes..
IAN HORE-LACY OF THE WORLD NUCLEAR ASSOCIATION, AN INDUSTRY BODY REPRESENTING 180 COMPANIES IN THE NUCLEAR SECTOR
“It is obviously an hydrogen explosion ... due to hydrogen igniting. If the hydrogen has ignited, then it is gone, it doesn’t pose any further threat.”
“The whole situation is quite serious but the actual hydrogen explosion doesn’t add a great deal to it.”
He said it was “most unlikely to be a major disaster” and he also did not believe there would be a full fuel meltdown.
“That would have been much more likely early yesterday in the European time. We are now 24 hours into the situatiuon and the fuel has cooled a lot in that time and the likelihood of meltdown at this stage I would think would be very, very small.”
There is no such thing, in the liberal mind, as a tragedy that cant be exploited.
Or run away from. TOTUS is off to Rio (opposite hemisphere, opposite side of the world) until this blows over and maybe Saudi invasion of Bahrain, and the war in Libya or Afghanistan, or the 10+% unemployment or failing financial system or ...
Thanks for the post. Bookmarking for later to see how the comments are rolling.
There an article on FR about people ordering Iodine Tablets like crazy. I wonder if we should buy some too.
The Media has finally gotten what it wanted....
“Panicked residents start to flee Tokyo”
FLY SOME MORE REPORTERS TO JAPAN.......Especially the ones that can’t speak the language, they won’t understand the insults from the Locals.
Let’s all chill out for a moment and think things through...
Remember, it is IMPOSSIBLE for a nuclear reactor to explode like an atomic bomb.
All that can happen is what amounts to a conventional explosion throwing radiaton from a melting core into the atmosphere. That would be a big roblem for Japan (although not the end of life as we know it—you may remember Nagasaki and Hiroshima).
It would not be a problem for the United States. We’re far away.
Remember, in the 1950s we tested HYDROGEN BOMBS in the Pacific. Yes, that was not a good thing. But it hardly caused any major problems in the United States.
This is a case of the media ( yes, Fox News included) simply trhowing out fear mongering to try to build an audience.
There is no excuse for it, and Fox engaged in the same kind of fear mongering in more important reports. INFORMATION is what the “news” should be about, and not fear mongering SPECULATION.
Sure, the nuclear plant situation in Japan is a problem, especially for Japan, but it is absurd to suggest that the “job” of the media is to HYPE the problem. The news should be about facts and information, and not about FEAR (and ratings).
I trust Katie.
You’ve forgot the 100.000 who died after Chernobyl on cancer caused by the long term radiation. You’ve forgot the thousands of children who died shortly after birth within the last 25 years because of their malformations.
You and I know that, but I don’t see TOTUS out explaining that to the press and the people. I see TOTUS letting the hysteria grow and he runs out of the country.
9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
Or, if it gets bad enough, they will make me emperor!
“except for about 50 brave staff” -
...they seem to be easly glossed over as if they were chopped liver..?
Sadly it would appear likely that all 50 are (or soon will be) way over exposed before ever being allowed to leave?
I would not be suprised if most of these brave 50 are dead within weeks.
All this to excuse Hussein’s partying and vacationing?
Invest every cent you can scrape up in tablets, then when the panic really sets in, you can sell the excess off at a huge profit.
Start your own commodity rush. If you are in at the start, you are golden.
And the more fear you can generate, the more "change" you can institute as a response.
Typical liberal response to nuclear power...
“China Syndrome! Three Mile Island! Chernobyl! The Reactors in Japan! No more nukes! No oil or gas! No wind power, it kills owls!...”
Have you got a link with those figures?
Fifty deaths, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers, are directly attributed to the accident.
Estimates of the total number of deaths attributable to the accident vary enormously. Despite the accident, Ukraine continued to operate the remaining reactors at Chernobyl for many years. The last reactor at the site was closed down in 2000, 14 years after the accident.
Of the 72,000 Russian Emergency Workers being studied, 216 non-cancer deaths are attributed to the disaster, between 1991 and 1998. The latency period for solid cancers caused by excess radiation exposure is 10 or more years; thus at the time of the WHO report being undertaken, the rates of solid cancer deaths were no greater than the general population
RE: Have you got a link with those figures?
As opposed to buzzer, I have my link which is sourced to articles and studies. See post #29 above.
I know. And I agree.
I was just curious as to where buzzer got his figures from..
I might also add that uranium can’t ‘explode’ all by itself.
It needs a ‘trigger’.
Besides. There isn’t enough uranium in a reactor to make even a decent bunker buster.. Well, maybe a little one.
“China Syndrome! Three Mile Island! Chernobyl! The Reactors in Japan! No more nukes! No oil or gas! No wind power, it kills owls!...
Billy Joel remake of “We didn’t start the fire”?
MORE FROM THE Wikipedia source, which cites UN and IAEA data ( see post #29 above ) regarding health effects and birth defects.
UNSCEAR has conducted 20 years of detailed scientific and epidemiological research on the effects of the Chernobyl accident.
Apart from the 57 direct deaths in the accident itself, UNSCEAR originally predicted up to 4,000 additional cancer cases due to the accident.
However, the latest UNSCEAR reports suggest that these estimates were overstated.
In addition, the IAEA states that there has been no increase in the rate of birth defects or abnormalities, or solid cancers (such as lung cancer) corroborating UNSCEAR’s assessments.
Here are the sources cited :
Holy crap!!! Quit watching horror movies.
Research those ridiculous statements and get back to us, if you can stand the humiliation.
Less that a hundred deaths, all workers, no noticable increases in cancers.
Geez, Louise, get a grip.
Do you expect the media to behave differently? This is what it does best.
Last night’s NYT: “Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Workers Leave Plant”
“Katie Couric said the nuclear reactors caused the earthquake and tsunami and killed tens of thousands of people.”
Given that the Tokyo Tower was bent it was obviously Gojira who did it.
Stop spreading that ridiculous 100,000 number. Not even a small fraction of that number died because of Chernobyl. You might want to actually read the article this thread is based on that gives the true number of Chernobyl deaths.
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.