with Peter Sinclair
Grrr! Fluff, fluff, fluff! I’ve been dying to see something solid about the state of the area, and this guy can only give us a brief glimpse of a radiation meter. He rambles on about the fact that the exclusion zone has no people in it — what do you expect in an exclusion zone? The most solid evidence he gives us is that in three hours he got the equivalent of a chest X-ray. Even that isn’t too helpful, because that standard is slippery: in the bad old days, a chest X-ray meant a pretty big dose. Nowadays, most chest X-rays are much weaker. So, which kind of X-ray is he talking about — the old, big one or the new small one?
The anecdotal bits of evidence in the report — the presence and apparent health of various animals, the fact that the farmer hasn’t turned into a giant blood-sucking monster — are all meaningless. What I’d like to see are decent measures of the radiation levels (and types) in that area. The Japanese government is not being too forthcoming with such numbers (unless they’ve posted something I’m not aware of; during the accident they had a website giving detailed data on radiation levels all around the area, but no data from inside the exclusion zone.)
You wouldn’t expect any real nuclear critique from the Royal Charter TV (the only one publicly run in the UK) of a state which supports and relies on nuclear power, would you?
Here one of the German public broadcasters (subtitled) about the aftermath in Japan
I watched that video and have mixed reactions to it. On the one hand, it at least gives us some actual numbers — four actual measurements of the amount of contamination. However, although they compared some of the results with the legal maximum, they did not communicate just how low those values are. The legal maximum is what we consider reasonably safe for everybody in society to be exposed to 24/7/365, so it is set very low.
At one point they mentioned that the vegetables the farmer brought in measured 7,000 Bq/kb. His potatoes are safer than potassium. Plain old pure potassium measures in at 31,000 Bq/kg. Now, potassium is rather special in this regard; the human body measures something like 60 Bq/kg. Brazil nuts have 444 Bq/kg. I’m not saying that the farmer’s vegetables are safe to eat — clearly, they’re unacceptable. I’m providing some perspective.
I will fault the newscaster for some hyperbolic language. She said that Japan is controlled by “the nuclear mafia”. That’s gross. It’s true that Japan has serious institutional problems with people in authority given too much latitude. But this does not make the whole country under the thumb of a mafia. And there’s nothing special about the Japanese nuclear power industry compared to the rest of Japanese institutions.
The comment that had my jaw drop was the idiotic claim of the British scientist that this was “the worst disaster in history”. I can think of a great many other disasters that were much more serious — like Chernobyl, the Holocaust, the Black Death, all sorts of earthquakes, floods, wars, and fires. And I should think that the 20,000+ victims of the tsunami deserve to be taken into consideration. The best estimates I have seen about the likely number of cancer cases resulting from this accident runs on the order of 10^2 to 10^3. These numbers are not reliable, but they are certainly consistent with what little we know about the population dose from this accident.
Wow, they had their guide slip them past security?
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