back to article Radioactive Tokyo tapwater HARMS BABIES ... if drunk for a year

The Japanese government has announced that radioactive iodine from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant has been found in tapwater, and that infants should not drink it. However there is little reason for concern once the facts are understood. Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare says that tests have …


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  1. Volker Hett

    yes, but...

    what's with the cesium they have on crops?

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    "The only health hazard presented by the Russian disaster was from iodine ingested in milk by children."

    To be fair, it was also from strontium being integrated into the bones.

  3. Hermes Conran

    Glowing children,

    ....what do you mean they haven't been eating Ready Brek?

    1. hplasm

      No glowing children now-

      they are all unfit, aren't they?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > On the whole though, the Japanese government seems to be facing the classic

    > dilemma following a nuclear incident of any type. If you say there's no cause for

    > concern, people will assume you're lying: if you then say there is cause for concern,

    > you actually are lying.

    I smell a troll. Flame on!

  5. O'Rly
    Big Brother

    Get a conscience, or a mind of your own

    PIf you decide not to get one, please, please write your next post from the Chernobyl Alienation Zone. Preferably, do it while having a road-side picnic. The iodine should be all gone by now, so make sure to drink plenty of water in the meantime.

    You are, wittingly or not, participating in the global Chernobyl coverup. Before you accuse me of being a conspiracy nut, I will point out it's not a conspiracy-driven coverup... it's just that many sub-humans in many countries have decided at about the same time that the truth is too hard to swallow for the plebs.

    1. Aaron Em

      You're being a conspiracy nut

      I don't know French, so I haven't been able to find anything that says whether or not Pellerin was convicted, or whether the case even went to trial. I also gather from the article you linked that it's not been proven that any cover-up took place; further, that at least one person has actually been convicted of libel for lying about Pellerin's statements regarding the Chernobyl accident; and further still, that the rising trend in Corsican thyroid cancer rates apparently began roughly a decade before the Chernobyl accident took place.

      As for your other link, I find it hardly surprising that the Soviet regime would not only lie to the world about the severity of a major industrial accident, but would actively injure the health of many hundreds or thousands of its subjects in order to perpetuate the cover-up. That's just one of the many remarkable traits which made the Soviet regime so well-loved around the world, and it's certainly not as though they only behaved that way with regard to Chernobyl -- take the loss of the Kursk, for example, in which the Soviet government also did their best to downplay the magnitude of the problem for as long as they possibly could.

      On the other hand, depending on how you count it, this year marks either the 20th or the 22nd anniversary of the Soviet regime's collapse, so I'm not sure what point I'm intended to take about the behavior of those political regimes which a) are not totalitarian oligarchies and b) actually still exist. Similarly, I'm not sure how it is that, from a five-year-old news story about an 83-year-old man being hounded into a courtroom by a bunch of leftist idiots who think radiation is worse than pedophile zombie Satan, I'm expected to draw the conclusion that the world's power elite are conspiring to conceal the true flipperhand-baby horrors of Chernobyl.

      You're not proving your point here; you're just saying "A + B = X-Files" and expecting people not to argue. Obviously there are better places to try that sort of thing than the Reg comments section; there's always going to be some saddo with nothing at all better to do in the entire breadth of his life than to sit down, put a clothespin on his nostrils, and explain at painfully pedantic length exactly why you're full of it.

      1. Naughtyhorse


        what he said :D

    2. Aaron Em

      Though you do get half a point...

      ...for saying 'plebs' instead of 'sheeple'.

    3. Aaron Em

      Wait, no, you're absolutely right

      I just realized -- the Kursk blew up and sank with *two* reactors aboard! Obviously a cover-up! Now we just need a French OAP to pin it on...

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Get a conscience, or a mind of your own? Got one.

      I don't see how two tepid articles about Svoiet cover-up of Chernobyl [expected] and possible downplaying of Chernobyl impacts by French authorities [expected] as explained by the Anti-Nuclear Panic Brigade [expected] yields new insights.

  6. Jim Morrow
    IT Angle

    a triumph for nuclear engineering

    is radioactive contamination of tokyo's water supply one of these "triumphs of nuclear engineering" that mr page was keen to tell us about?

    i look forward to further articles from him about how the titanic was a triumph of naval engineering, the hindenburg was a triumph for the aviation industry and gordon brown's chancellorship was a triumph for the world of financial engineering.

    1. Terry Barnes


      Sailing on the Titanic is one of the safest activities mankind has ever undertaken. 99.999999999% of all humans who have ever lived didn't die on the Titanic.

      1. jm83
        Thumb Up


        people forget, there were hundreds of hours of uneventful, perfectly enjoyable sailing before the titanic hit that iceberg.

      2. Highlander

        Ah risks....

        Here's a rather fun little graphic from the national safety council that illustrates the risks of dying due to various causes.

        It rather looks to me that even tripling your chances of dying from radiation exposure, you are still at far greater risk from activities such as being a pedestrian, simply sitting in a car, motor vehicle accident, riding a motorcycle, falling, etc....

        The risks involved here are not very significant compared to other risks we can assess in our lives. That's not to say that there are no risks of course, but if you stack the risks, even the cumulative exposure of those who've worked longest at the accident site, you are still struck by the contrast against the far greater risks we take every day just getting out of bed.

        1. Ben Bawden


          But they've still got to get out of bed as well !!!! They're doomed.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah risks

          >you are still struck by the contrast against the far greater risks we take every day just getting out of bed

          I knew I had something to do today but after reading that I think I'll stay where I am, hopefully it will be a safer under the blakets.

  7. Gordon 10

    Putting that in perspective

    Assuming there was a once off event that deposited he iodine it will be within the safe limit in 16 days and almost gone in 72 days. Even if a bab drank the water every day it's average exposure over a year would be well under 100 bequerels.

    Table For those interested :

    Bequerels. Days

    210. 8

    105. 16

    63. 24

    32. 32

    16. 40

    8.   48

    4.   56

    2.   64

    1.   72

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get out!

      You come here and don't even write consecutive powers of 2 in binary? You get 10 (twice a unit) demerits and you're hereby stripped out of your nerd badge.

      As for all people who don't understand units (Bq/yr) and what half life means (yes, yes it IS a game, but it also has a scientific meaning), I've got a tip I use myself: when I don't know about a topic, I refrain myself from commenting on the said topic.

    2. cdgp

      Based on a wrong assumption

      Your numbers only stand up assuming that all radioactivity ceased immediately when in reality it's still quite possible that even much greater releases will continue over months to come.

      1. mmiied

        it did cese

        the core scramed all productio of radiocative iodaie (it is a byproduct of the cors oprationn) ceased as soon as the quake hit

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you have to consider the amount of water drunk in a year!

      The level measured in tap-water was 210 bequerels / l. Assuming you drink 2l per day, that is 420 bequerels per day.

      What you are saying is that 1l of water has no more effect after 72 days, but can you last that long without additional water to drink?

      1. Paul Powell

        The limit is in Bequrels per litre - not an absolute amount

        Title says it all

  8. Anonymous Coward

    that is all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: that is all.

      So he was charged five years ago, what happened since then? I'm sure there's lots of damning evidence from the trial that you want to share with us.

    2. Michael Xion

      Did you bother to RTFA?

      It is 5 years old. Where's the follow up? What happened in the case? The article itself details an initial investigation into what is basically a 'he said, she said' legal argument where neither side has a strong argument. On the one hand there are claims of a cover-up of the chernobyl nuclear cloud extent. On the other hand, the claims of thyroid cancer caused by the cloud are not proven (the article even states that the investigation of thyroid cancer rates goes back to the 70's - Chernobyl was in 1986).

      If anything the article merely serves to increase the confusion around Chernobyl. I t does NOT suppiort the contention fo a 'cover up'

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Excerpt from the article you link to

      "Doctors also question the supposed link between Chernobyl and the rise in thyroid cancer, a trend which began in the mid-1970s but which Bertella-Geoffroy is also investigating, notably in Corsica."

      That is all.

      However, since you are clearly concerned, I'd suggest you head straight for Vault 101 and stay there for 20 years.

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      You already posted this

      that is all

  9. Annihilator

    How dare you!

    How dare you present the facts in a calm and deliberate manner - don't you realise there are scare stories to peddle, newspapers to sell and hard disks of forum postings to fill??

    I demand a snappy headline that indicates that the world is about to end. Preferably one that uses minimal syllables and misspells the word "nook-yoo-luh-r"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Plus CAPS, we need CAPS

      Apart from the snappy headlines, we need random words typed in ALL CAPS!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    could your reporting be more useless?

    Hell it's practically misinformative. Let's review the basic facts of the situation:

    1. at some point in time health experts determined that infants should not be served water of greater than 100 Bq/L of iodine-131

    2. in Tokyo, recent water samples exceed that level for iodine-131

    3. the Japanese government notified Tokyo residents of the issue and recommended that they not serve the water to infants

    How is that anything other than the perfectly rational, intelligent, and technically correct thing to do?

    Frankly I find your reporting shoddy, unprofessional, and counterproductive. You sound like an ass, and you offend me and many other somewhat intelligent people. Please stop.

    1. Nexox Enigma

      See, here's where you're wrong

      """1. at some point in time health experts determined that infants should not be served water of greater than 100 Bq/L of iodine-131"""

      You forgot to mention the 'for a year' part of the 100 Bq/L limit. Which is the important bit. Since there's probably not a continuous supply of Iodine-131, the water will be under the limit (long) before anyone can get 100Bq*Year/L of exposure.

      Seems to me that leaving the time dimension out of an inherently time-related issue is rather careless.

      1. Highlander

        The poster also ignores...

        That the half life of iodine 131 is 8 days which means in 1 month, the level of radiation will be a little under 6% of the current level - even if the material causing the reading were to remain in the water constantly. However since the water will cycle through the plant, and the equipment will, where possible or appropriate be decontaminated, the levels of material in the water will be below the levels of any risk within a few weeks.

    2. Ray Simard

      @could your reporting be more useless?


      1. As the previous responder reminds us, you'd have to drink the water for a long time to get that exposure.

      2. You couldn't do that if you tried, at least, for iodine-137. The half-life is only 8 days. (Ce-131 is much longer, though).

      3. There is a tendency for a lot of people to interpret the boundaries at which an agency starts recommending taking certain actions for safety as the boundaries at which something becomes dangerous; that is, for example, if the government says that radiation levels have just increased to the point where they start evacuating people, that means levels have reached the point where it's dangerous to remain.

      That is incorrect, at least, if the government is on the ball.

      You make these decisions with a safety margin, that is, you start evacuating when levels are still well below the point where it's dangerous to remain, but on the rise. Going into chicken-little mode the moment someone says you should refrain from drinking the water or eating the spinach or breathing the air is overreacting.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @could your reporting be more useless?

        So you're basically saying screw it, it's just a long term limit and we only have one set of detects?

        You're making an assumption that the Japanese government officials weren't willing to make--that the nature of the source, extent, and duration of the contamination are well understood. They simply aren't; it's practically impossible to project the contaminant transport from the plant based on available information. Hell, people can't even agree on what the exact damage is at the reactor yet.

        And it's not as if the government told everyone to don respirators and hide in basements for a year drinking distilled water. They said give infants bottled water until further notice if possible, otherwise it's safe enough to drink.

        For what it's worth, I'm not advocating that we blow the problem out of proportion. I'm reacting to the ongoing negation of reasonable people's concerns by the Reg writer. Why not do a story about how the lack of clear information coming out of TEPCO and various government agencies about the power plant causes tremendous anxiety for reasonable people? Or how the history of secrecy and misinformation around the nuclear power industry has undermined its credibility with the public in a crisis. People are in a panic because they no longer feel they can trust what the government and industry says at face value. They think if there's a warning the problem must actually be a whole lot worse than is stated, because that's what happened in the past.

  11. a_mu

    If my baby only drank radioactive water for 364 days

    would that be all right then ?

    you decide !

    1. Aaron Em

      Do your own damned parenting!

      This is why there are ASBOs, you know: people like you who can't be bothered to put in the effort involved in raising their own bloody child. If you ask me, we ought to be putting contraceptives in the water, not iodine-131.

      1. crowley

        Contraceptives in water

        Or just make them mandatory for long-term benefit claimants?

        Maybe the right to breed could expire with National Insurance contributions based claims, so that those unemployed through no fault of their own aren't discriminated against, just the feckless wastrels.

        1. David Pollard

          Contraceptives in water? Already been done.

          "Cancer rise and sperm quality fall 'due to chemicals'."

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      It would be...

      ...for some values of "radioactive", in function of what exactly this "radioactive" depends on and furthermore on what else is in that tap water. Dioxins, Benzene, Arsenic, Organophosphates from Pharming, PCBs from old transformer oil and Human Hormones of the contraceptive kind are the first to come to mind.

      People doing parenting these days don't know nothing anymore.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      HALF LIFE! #he shouts angrily after repeating it for the nth time#

      Levels will drop to acceptable after roughly 2 weeks. So:

      - is 364 less than 365? Not much, I'll grant it to you.

      - is 15 less than 365? Yes, quite a bit.

      For comparision purpose, it's similar to:

      - not understanding calculus, complex numbers and hamiltonians=not being a math genius

      - not being able to divide by 2=sucking real bad at math

    4. Francis Boyle

      Would that be all right then ?

      Yes, it's a safe limit. As long as you're under the limit you're safe.

      Do you throw out your food the day before the use by date?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear power IS NOT DANGEROUS!

    It's the humans that manage that: <>.

    "Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. (6501) in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a “time bomb,” was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks. "


    "Kenta Takahashi, an official at the Trade Ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said he couldn’t confirm whether the agency’s predecessor, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, had conducted an investigation into Tanaka’s claims. Naoki Tsunoda, a spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant, said he couldn’t immediately comment"


    "When Tokyo Electric sent a representative to check on their progress, Hitachi distracted him by wining and dining him, according to Tanaka. Rather than inspecting the part, they spent the day playing golf and soaking in a hot spring, he said. "


    "“These procedures, as they’re described, are far from ideal, especially for a component as critical as this,” Robert Ritchie, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California of Berkeley, said in a phone interview. “Depending on the extent of vessel’s deformation, it could possibly lead to local cracking in some of its welds.” "

    etc. etc.

    If in doubt, Lewis, close your eyes and answer the wrong question.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      So this is relevant how?

      That "hidden time bomb flaw" consisting in "a manufacturing defect" (which one?) wasn't triggered in this case, right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And some more


      "Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismology professor at Kobe University, has said Japan’s history of nuclear accidents stems from an overconfidence in plant engineering. In 2006, he resigned from a government panel on reactor safety, saying the review process was rigged and “unscientific.”"


      "“Containment engineering has been vindicated. What has not been vindicated is the site engineering that put us on a path to accident.”"


      "The cascade of events at Fukushima had been foretold in a report published in the U.S. two decades ago. The 1990 report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency responsible for safety at the country’s power plants, identified earthquake-induced diesel generator failure and power outage leading to failure of cooling systems as one of the “most likely causes” of nuclear accidents from an external event."


      "Tokyo Electric in 2002 admitted it had falsified repair reports at nuclear plants for more than two decades."


      "Then in 2007, the utility said it hadn’t come entirely clean five years earlier. It had concealed at least six emergency stoppages at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station and a “critical” reaction at the plant’s No. 3 unit that lasted for seven hours."


      "The Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant was only designed to withstand a 5.7-meter tsunami, not the 7-meter wall of water generated by last week’s earthquake or the 6.4-meter tsunami that struck neighboring Miyagi prefecture after the Valdiva earthquake in 1960, Ito said." [Well, shit. How dumb can you get?]


      "Kansai Electric Power Co., the utility that provides Osaka with electricity, said it also faked nuclear safety records. Chubu Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Hokuriku Electric Power Co. said the same."


      "The world’s biggest nuclear power plant [Kashiwazaki Kariwa] had been built on an earthquake fault line that generated three times as much seismic acceleration, or 606 gals, as it was designed to withstand, the utility said. One gal, a measure of shock effect, represents acceleration of 1 centimeter (0.4 inch) per square second."


      Please read the article so there's no risk of me selective quoting. There's more grim crap in there too.

      This is why I don't like nuclear. The tech can be made arbitarily safe but it's homo expediensis that ensures it won't be.

      Lewis, do you actually give a damn about this or is it just prod-the-proles so we start posting? WTF is going on?

    3. Ray Simard

      @Nuclear power IS NOT DANGEROUS!

      So, when human beings screw up, blame the reactor.

    4. Highlander


      You suppose that kind of thing doesn't happen all over the world in all sorts of dangerous industry, like pharmaceuticals, or Bioengineering, or Chemical plants, oil refineries, oil tankers, coal mines, coal power stations, etc....

  13. Doug Bostrom
    Thumb Up

    Telegraph Junior

    Keep it up! Perhaps the Barclays will begin inviting you through the front door, or even make an offer. At the present time, pathological optimism in Britain mostly begins in the newsroom of the Telegraph and ends between David Cameron's ears but the infection appears to be spreading down the food chain.

    1. Martin 19


      The Telegraph has consistently been one of the more alarmist papers, both about Fukushima and world events generally.

  14. lord_farquaad

    great !

    Any comment from the 500 millisquivert per hour near nuclear reactor 2 ?

    Is this no harmfull for TEPCO employees working on reestablishing the cooling system ?

    1. mmiied
      Thumb Down

      in related news

      tempatures of over 1000c messered nexturew buring oil refinary that is hasadous to firemen who stood in it

      I dought anyboady is alowed to go that close

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Contact TEPCO for further information

      1) How near is that

      2) Does anyone need to be that near?

      3) Are these workers unprotected?

      4) How long are they hanging around before being cycled?

      5) Do these "millisquivert" (sic!) come from gamma, beta, neutrons?

      Meanwhile, babies are dying 50 kilometers away.

    3. Ray Simard


      It is acknowledged that radiation levels at the plant itself are very dangerous, or at least were a while. The operators are very courageous to stay and they are widely regarded as heroes now; it's essentially certain that many of them will suffer serious consequences.

      1. Chris Miller


        While I agree that the operators and firefighters show great moral fortitude, I seriously doubt that "it's essentially certain that many of them will suffer serious consequences". In an emergency, regulations permit exposure levels of up to 100mSv, in life-threatening circumstances this can be increased to 250mSv. A small number of those at the plant have received doses greater than 100mSv and been taken to hospital as a precaution, but there have been no reports of anyone exceeding 250mSv.

        You would need doses 10x these levels to cause serious illness, although there is (on plausible assumptions) an increased lifetime risk of contracting cancer of 1-2%. For comparison, a commercial airline pilot will receive an additional 2,500mSv over an entire career.

    4. Highlander

      No one ever said that higher levels are not dangerous

      Bu the workers at Fukushima are not sunbathing in their swimming togs between the reactors you know, they have appropriate protective gear and equipment and as soon as any reading spikes they evacuate. Those readings are per hour readings, so if the level spikes too high, and they evacuate their exposure - as limited by their equipment, is further limited by precautionary evacuation. Honestly, some people apparently think that a spot reading means that you receive that does in an instant. They are rates per hour (as you so helpfully quote), not immediate dosages.

  15. Methusalah


    I have only one question for you.

    If you were living in Tokyo and you had a child under one year old...would you give him/her the tap water?

    1. Aaron Em


      I have only one question for you.

      You'd give a baby tap water? I guess you're from somewhere that's got better tap water than everywhere I've ever lived, or else you're going to have one sick baby on your hands before very long.

      1. David Neil

        Very good point

        I was told that babies should not be given water except in very small amounts when they are ill, upsets their stomachs and causes even more of a mess than normal.

      2. Terry Barnes

        Tap water?

        It's the norm in the UK - tap water boiled and then cooled. The minerals in bottled water aren't great for babies. Alas boiling tap water doesn't, as far as I know, remove radioactivity.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tap water + Baby Formula = Happy Baby.

        "You'd give a baby tap water?"

        Lots of people use powdered milk or formula milk / baby formula. You have to dilute it with water in case you didn't know.

      4. GettinSadda

        @Aaron Em

        Um, in most civilised countries tap water is given to babies. I gave it to mine, and all my friends and family members gave it to theirs. Generally it was boiled first (for the first few months) but this does nothing to remove radioactive iodine.

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      @ Methusalah

      Lots of people seem to be avoiding the question. I'll answer it - yes, I would. The reasons for this are:

      1. The risk of the child dying of dehydration is a certainty if I don't give it appropriate fluid intake, and if water is all I've got, I'll do it.

      2. The actual risk of *any* harm to the child is very, very, very small over an entire lifetime.

      3. If I still have a baby alive in the affected area after all the other things that have happened, radiation is so far down my list of priorities that it does not even register on the "Who gives a toss" meter.

      But then, I'm intelligent, educated, and can spot an actual, real risk.

  16. Andrew Jones 2

    One has to wonder....

    One does have to wonder though...... why does the author even care?

    This is supposed to be a largely tech related site.

    Yet the author has over the last week quite literally gone out of their way to spurt and endless tirade of "Nuclear Is Safe" articles.

    Tell us once and move on, tell us twice if you really must.

    Tell us continuously day after day after day - and we start to wonder whether you have some sort of agenda?

    If you really must endlessly rant on about the pro's of nuclear and how we must all worship the tech - setup a blog and point those people who are interested in it's direction.

    But please STOP dragging this site into it.

    Those of us mere mortals who don't know a lot about nuclear but don't trust it - are not going to change our minds simply because you tell us to.

    1. Edlem

      You poor, poor thing!

      If only there was some way for you not to have to read posts that you personally don't find interesting.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "Those of us mere mortals who don't know a lot about nuclear but don't trust it"

      What are you doing on this site in the first place?

    3. Davidoff

      Page is a clueless hack writer

      He has already proven that he has no clue about military aviation or anyof the other topics he wrote, and these were at least vaguely connected to his former career (IIRC he said he was a RN diver). So it seems being a diver makes one qualified to write about combat aircraft, and obviously it also makes him a nuclear specialist. So I guess all those that go to university to obtain appropriate degrees are clueless morons then.

      Aside from Page being clueless about the topics in his articles, he also clearly has an agenda. That may be fine for an amateur, but that is not what I would expect from a professional journalist. Certainly everyone has a view on a topic, but there is some minimum level of balance and objectivity that a journalist should present. Page's articles are not polarizing, they are just plain crap, written to feed expedient optimistically readers desperately looking for confirmation that, no matter what happens, everything will be allright. I'm not sure a hack writer with zero demonstrated competencies or expertise in any of the topics he writes about is a good source of information.

      I don't know what is more embarassing, Page's articles or that El Reg provides a forum for this crap. Which is a shame as most of the articles from the other authors are quite good.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Danger - living leads to death!

    So better use bottled water then hey:

    When contracting on a nuclear site a few years back, I can remember one of the people in charge of the water purification plant telling me that a certain popular brand of bottled water was too active to be poured down the non-active drain systems there.

    1. John G Imrie

      A Quote

      “Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”

      R. D. Laing

  18. Cameron Colley

    Perhaps some more ballance is required?

    I am certainly pro-nuclear, but I find these articles lacking in information which could be used to assure people that rwactors are safe.

    Any chance of a less biased cost/risk/need comparison of energy sources and one which doesn't pretend that Chernobly was of no consequence to anyone?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure you know all about it Lewis

    Because radioactive Iodine ingestion by babies is a very well researched topic and you're clearly a medical doctor.

    No reason for concern my arse.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      wtf logic?????

      Because radioactive Iodine ingestion by babies is a very well researched topic and you're clearly a medical doctor.

      im rubber you're glue etc etc etc.

      why do the ords omlette and visage spring to mind

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again,,,,,

    I nice article, and i see youve been a bit more....diplomatic at the end there too, you should get yourself on the BBC because im frankly sick an tired of all the crap coming out of them recently, especially the part timers who seem to try make a name for them selves.

  21. Muckminded

    Worse things could happen...

    Like a sudden influx of water into a highly populated area sitting in a flood plain.

    Still, no one likes creepy old radioactivity and the way it sits around for years, leering at you and making fun of your lead underwear.

  22. Ejit

    Is it unreasonable?

    Mr Page,

    I quite understand your stance on no hype and straight facts reporting of this incident, but it is really unreasonable to expect your drinking water not to come with an added bonus of Iodine 131?

    You make it sound a bit like the burglar who shat in the householders pot of mince and forced him to have to throw half of it away.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And in other Fukushima-related news....

    The plant operators have been evacuated again because of a fire in unit 3. Tokyo Electric Power doesn't know the cause of the fire or the level of radioactivity associated with the smoke issuing from the unit..

    Not Chernobyl, but it ain't nothing....

    1. Ray Simard

      @And in other Fukushima-related news....

      They were evacuated as a precautions, but only briefly.

  24. Mr Young

    Just seen the BBC news website...

    ...Quote - "Tokyo water works is 'new ground zero'". Now, I don't know the whole story but that is a load of sensationalist nonsense I would bet! It seems to be a popcorn moment watching all these media outlets do the OMG NUCLEAR FEAR THING. Ongoing good luck wishes to all the Japanese as well...

    1. Highlander


      The SKY is falling!! The sky is falling! Oh, wait, not so much...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Sheep farming in Wales and Scotlan

    Only now are the government starting to allow sheep to be slaughtered for consumption in parts of Wales and Scotland due to Chernobyl.

    1. Michael Xion

      Actually, no

      The article clearly states that 'mandatory' testing of sheep before certain activities (such as transport to auction and slaughter) is being lifted from a small number of remaining farms. The article does not state how many sheep over the years have failed that testing for radioactivity. Whilst a major inconvenience to a decreasing number of farmers, it's not the big deal you make out.

      1. Andydaws

        At the risk of being a nerd, I checked.

        there are no longer any farms under restriuction in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

        On the last radiological survey of the remaining 9 farms in Cumbria still under restriction, of 5600 sheep surveyed, just 3 were marginally over the 1000Bq/KG limit. All were at a level that a weeks grazing at lower level would have had them under the limit.

        In the equivalent survey for Wales, no sheep over the limit were identified.

        Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the MAFF civil servants responsible for the monitoring recommended that the surveys and controls be continued......

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Kobe sheep?

      Why are sheep in Wales and Scotland being given Tokyo tap water? Isn't that prohibitively expensive?

  26. Steven Jones

    C4 coverage

    C4 news did a good job on this basically because they cut to the science editor rather than left it with Jon Snow. He explained that the Japanese standard of 100 becquerels for 1 year olds was much stricter than the UK standard of 500 becquerels for both adults and infants. He also said it was based on 14 litres consumption, but rather runined it by not saying over what period. I wouldn't like to meet the baby that could drink 14 litres of water a day when he/she grew up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      > I wouldn't like to meet the baby that could drink 14 litres of water a day

      It is one of the great mysteries of life that babies seem well able to piss 14 litres a day, without drinking anything like it. Or maybe it just seems that way.

    2. Ray Simard

      @C4 coverage

      On the other hand, if you're talking about beer...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Lewis, Lewis, Lewis ...

    "Most of what was in the plant when it shut down Friday before last has now turned into inoffensive Xenon"

    Xenon may be (mostly) chemically inert but if you believe it to be inoffensive, just inhale some (especially from a nuclear plant). I dare you.

    Apart from being a well-known asphyxiant it has around 20 unstable radio-isotopes and its compounds (yes, it can form compounds) are all highly corrosive oxidants,

    I care not whether it be radio-Iodine or Xenon, I don't consider exposure to either to be necessary, beneficial or conducive to good health.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Where do your people get your ignorance from?

      1) Please explain how you would manage to be asphyxiated by Xenon created from the decay of Iodine 131. Fetishists might be interested.

      2) Iodine 131 decays to Xenon 131 which is fully stable, so it don't matter whether it comes from a nuke plant or not.

      3) Corrosive oxidants of Xenon my ass. What, like fluoride compounds? It won't be the Xe that gets you in that kind of gas.

      4) Xenon in enormous amounts is an anaesthetic. You might want to try some.

      Now go back to watching America's Funniest Home Videos or something.

    2. Horizon3


      Then you better ditch most of those light bulbs and fluorescent tubes in your home & office, because Xenon is the gas of choice to fill them with.

    3. smylar


      I-131 decays to Xe-131, which is a stable isotope of Xenon.

      However, Xe-131 can be transformed into an unstable isotope via neutron capture, so yes if it was still in a working reactor you would get radioactive Xenon. But out in the general environment where the iodine is decaying this simply isn't the case.

      Plus with the amount of Xenon being produced, and the fact it is generally unreactive (Xenon Oxides are very unstable) means it will be in very diffuse amounts and unlikely to suffocate anyone

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yup ...

        I know all about the decay chain of Iodine into Xenon -- I wasn't actually suggesting that concentrations of Xenon or its radio-isotopes were likely to build up.

        Also the quantities present in florescent or incandescent lighting is truly minute -- and the gas is *very* low pressure anyhow.

        No, I'm countering the claim by Lewis that Xenon is "inoffensive". It simply isn't. Inhaling Helium (or any inert gas) isn't a particularly good idea either. Just because its a noble gas doesn't make it harmless (Radon is also an noble gas but its far from harmless).

        There are many erstwhile safe substances constantly being synthesised in perfectly working reactors all the time but when reactors do malfunction (and fuel rods catch fire) there are even more unpleasant possibilities to contend with -- many of these compounds having an avid affinity to organic metabolic processes.

        What has happened in Japan is NOT a minor event and it certainly isn't a CONTAINED one. You and Lewis here, like me, know nothing -- not a damned thing -- about the interior state of these reactors -- AND THAT'S THE POINT. No one ever will.

        Meanwhile, questionable "safe" doses of radiation in the environment are being touted around by Lewis in articles like his which defend the current status quo of the industry while we know a lot of it is woefully out of date and is based on dodgy statistical evidence in the first place. Some of it was frankly based on nothing more substantial than notional anecdote!

        This was not a minor incident and IT ISN'T OVER, either. Lets not forget that. Pardon the pun but the fallout from this will go on for years and will cost more than just money to clean up.

        1. Chemist

          Xenon is "inoffensive


        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Your stance on Xenon is..

          illogical, irrelevant and absurd. Rant all you want about radioactivity, assuming you have some knowledge of it, but you know fossil power station emit million of tonnes of carbon dioxide - that's not only an asphyxiant but actually toxic at sufficient concentrations (~10%)

          Now I know it's ridiculous to worry about carbon dioxide poisoning except in extreme circumstances but it's FAR more likely than Xenon having any effects

    4. Stoneshop


      And, say, 200 Bequerel worth of Iodine-131 per litre of water (to be generous) would certainly turn into roomfulls of xenon, ready to burst out and asphyxiate you.

      I can't make out if you would be more sensitive than the average person to xenon asphyxiation, or rather less, because your brain, being inoperative already, wouldn't be bothered by oxygen deprivation.

    5. Annihilator

      Inhale any gas

      Erm, yes xenon is a "well-known asphyxiant". As is 79% of our atmosphere. Amazingly we survive.

      But don't stop yelling, cos that would mean you lost the fight...

    6. Martin 19

      Nitrogen is a well known asphyxiant too;

      and that's in the air all around you! Run away! Panic!

      I've also heard that they're injecting Dihydrogen Monoxide into the reactors, which is a well known corrosive solvent that is found in the vast majority of malignant cancers.

    7. Highlander

      Oddly enough highly active oxidants...

      have a habit of reacting quickly to form other compounds. However you're talking about the amount of iodine 131 converting to xenon as if it was a concentrated gas that could asphyxiate people when that is not, and never has been the case, unless you're happening to be breathing the vented steam from the reactors of course - which I highly doubt. Once that material has diluted a couple of billion or so times and decayed, it does indeed cease to be a danger.

      Think things through instead of going for the easy hyperbolic. Hyperbole is no substitute for thought.

    8. Chemist

      "now turned into inoffensive Xenon"

      Iodine-131 decays to Xenon-131 by beta decay.

      Xe-131 is stable (i.e NON-radioactive) and the only hazard if concentrated is anesthesia or asphyxiation. At the truly minute amounts present in the water this is impossible.

      What the hell the compounds of Xenon have to do with this ?

      Any gas that isn't oxygen is an asphyxiant if it's not mixed with sufficient oxygen

      Have opinions, but don't try and BS with 'facts' that aren't and science you clearly don't understand

  28. asdf

    hmm how come?

    Often those that spout how safe nuclear is would never allow a plant to be built within 5 miles of their house. Lewis is pretty rabid and may but its easy to say don't worry when your kids are 7000 miles away. Bet if it was in the town over half the smug people on here might behave different.

    1. mmiied

      where I live

      I have lived with in 5 miles of 3 diffrent neculre plants and I have never lost a momnets sleep over them

      I lost more sleep when they put up a wind farm near my office cos the flickering blades stoped me taking my mid afternoon nap

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I used to live in a village with the Hartlepool nuke plant *and* Tioxide (one of the largest Cyanide plants in the UK) nearby. I'm fully behind the "Nuke is safe" movement and would like to see more built and coal plants torn down.

      Worrying about nuke power going tits up is like a person being worried about the safety of air travel when they happily use the most dangerous form of transit without a care in the world (cars, btw).

    3. Intractable Potsherd

      @asdf are right

      I would not live near any of the nuclear plants in the UK (or most other places), because I have a real problem with flooding. I don't ever want to be flooded again, and will not live anywhere but up a big hill (I'm absolutely serious about this - I lived in a house near where the cellar was very close to the water table before I realised that it was a silly thing to do). The relevance? Nuclear plants tend to be built very close to lots of water, which means that they are on locally low-lying ground. However, build one up a hill and I would not have any problems at all. Of all the things to worry about in this world, radiation from nuclear plants doesn't even count.

  29. JC runner

    Some folks just cannot be objective

    Wow, maybe i read the wrong article...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why didn't you approve my earlier comment? cowards.

    where's the middle-finger icon dammit.

  31. Will 30

    What's the dilemma here?

    They're just issuing advice based on the measurements they've taken and the limits they'd previous set down. What else should they do?

    The only dilemmas are those faced by people who wish the limits were zero and want to panic at any sign of any measurement greater than the local background, and by people who wish the limits were higher (especially now they've been breached) and don't want their panglossian version of events tarnished by public health warnings.

    It's likely that the limits are unnecessarily low, but the most recent chance to raise them has passed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You would, though

      kind of think the Japanese would have the most realistic approach to dealing with radiation sickness and radio isotope poisoning than any other nation on Earth, and by quite a long shot.

  32. Relgoshan


    With all of this paranoiac bullshit, it will be cheap and uncrowded in Tokyo this summer. My good gentlemen, this is the IDEAL time for a Japanese vacation!

    1. Chimp


      The thought has crossed my mind. And only three hours away, too. Mind you, I will give it a few months til l they have things sorted out.

      I know for a fact that the effect on inbound tourism has a few Tokyo residents worried. Not sure why the previous post was downvoted... I am sure your money would be very welcome.

  33. Frederick Karno

    Strange Situation

    Its a tricky situation that the japanese government are finding themselves in .

    From the start it was obvious that the fuel rods had broken and were exposed to air but they have been in denial from the start.....

    Now they are finding iodine in the water, what next ??? well if they are finding iodine and caesium in the system then the whole spectrum of radioactive contaminants will be there.

    There is a myth that because something is short half life that is a lesser risk.... whilst this maybe so with radiation when it is contamination and is in the eco system then its a different story.

    Take for example Caesium released from Chernobyl there is still far too high a concentration on the lake district fells for the sheep that graze there to be used as food thats from 25 years ago.

    There is a reason for the levels they set and whilst conservative should still be an enormous worry that they have been breached.

    I have no faith in what the Japanese government and its scientists are saying they have been down playing the whole scenario. Which is far from over let me add but the truth will eventually out....

    My thoughts go out to the people of Japan whilst some problems seem to be easing, others haven't even started yet.

    1. Ray Simard

      @Strange situation

      "There is a myth that because something is short half life that is a lesser risk.... whilst this maybe so with radiation when it is contamination and is in the eco system then its a different story."

      I don't follow you. Half-life is the same regardless of where the radioactive material is. Radionuclides decay exponentially, dropping by half in each half-life period. How can anyone say that an element that decays to 1/1024 of its original amount in 80 days (iodine-137) is not a lesser risk than one that needs 300 years (ce-131) to do the same?

      I wish that all the people who insist that the Japanese government or TEPCO is fudging the facts would share the more reliable information they apparently have with us, and where it came from. After all, how can you know they're fudging if you don't have some base of more reliable data that conflicts with theirs? (Not to say they aren't spinning things; the point is, how can you tell?)

      Also realize that the main source of information about the status of the plant comes from operators who have better things to do than spend a lot of time trying to explain the technical esoterica to not-too-technical news agencies so they understand it.

    2. mmiied


      "From the start it was obvious that the fuel rods had broken and were exposed to air but they have been in denial from the start....."

      it was not obvious and I hesatate to say no such thing has happened the steel contaiment vessal is intact there has been no exposer of reactor fule rods

      "Now they are finding iodine in the water, what next ??? well if they are finding iodine and caesium in the system then the whole spectrum of radioactive contaminants will be there."

      if they where they would have found them

      "There is a myth that because something is short half life that is a lesser risk.... whilst this maybe so with radiation when it is contamination and is in the eco system then its a different story."

      you are only partley right here but thatg is better than the rest of your post short lived isotopes are usuley more active than long lived ones because they give off so much energy that is why they are short lived BUT the activity lvl is what is being monitered so to get the lvls they are fiondign in the tap water they most be a very minute amount of iodide and it will be gone very quickley and once it is in the enviroment it will decay and delude and be undecatable v ery quickley

      "I have no faith in what the Japanese government and its scientists are saying they have been down playing the whole scenario. Which is far from over let me add but the truth will eventually out...."

      I think it is more likley everyboady else had been upplayoing it badley and why do pepol mistrust experst so much these days?

    3. Highlander

      Fred - to be fair

      Your not at all talking about the same kind of situation. Chernobyl was an accident with a reactor that was actively running and exploded and caught fire burning the core in a graphite fire that sent vaporized nuclear fuel into the atmosphere for days on end. Here you're talking about reactors who's primary containment is essentially intact, there are no reactor fires, any core damage is likely to be limited to bending and partial fusing of fuel assemblies not complete melt down because the cores were no longer active and had been cooled for a few critical hours prior to the station outage. The difficulties they have had with cooling the reactors during their decay heat phase have resulted in having to release steam from the reactor core so that more cooling water can be pumped in. The compounds so far detected both at the plant and elsewhere are not the nuclear fuel itself, but isotopes resulting from the normal reactions inside the cores. All of the cores are in a shutdown mode, they are just not in a cold shutdown. Not ideal, but nothing even remotely close to Chernobyl.

      I have no faith in anyone trying to push the theory that this is like Chernobyl in any significant manner.

    4. Andydaws



      "Take for example Caesium released from Chernobyl there is still far too high a concentration on the lake district fells for the sheep that graze there to be used as food thats from 25 years ago."


      The restrictions have been lifted in their entirity in Scotland and NI. On the 9 farms still restricted in the Lake District, in the last survey (2008), 5,600 sheep were checked. Just 3 mildly exceeded the 1000BQ/KG limit that's been set by DEFRA (a suspiciously round number, but we'll let that go...). In the equivalent survey in Wales, no sheep exceeded the limit were found.

      The sheep found in England were contaminated at a level that a week grazing on lower fields would have reduced them below the limit.

      "There is a reason for the levels they set "

      They're usually based on an extreme worst case - the person most exposed to the worst pathway. For example, Sellafield's discharge limits were set on the basis of someone eating fish and shellfish caught directly off the discharge point pretty much every day of their life for 70 years, recieving the permitted legal dose (itself set conservatively).

      Now, if you think there's something sacred about those limits - you'll repsumably admit that, given the figures I gave above, post-Chernobyl contamination in the UK is now a non-issue.

  34. trarch


    I was under the impression that ANY amount of radiation increases your risk of health issues, similar to the mutations that occur from smoking a few cigarettes, being somewhat like Russian roulette where the bullet is a bad mutation - while some people can happily puff away for 30 years without cancer, others may develop it quickly.

    Of course, we're all exposed to differing levels of radiation all the time from a multitude of sources.

    However, surely it can't be considered ridiculous for people to prevent their young children from being exposed to yet another source?

    If anyone has some knowledge on that, I'd appreciate hearing it.

    1. mmiied

      not true

      it is on old phalicy small amounts of rad are no more harmefull than a small amount of heat is it can be thought of in the same way small amount is shriuged off large amount causus damage needs to be repaired large amount kills you

      as tot he second point that is why the warning went out but it is no diffrent than the advice n ot to drink the water after a spill at a chemical factory and we get thouse a lot of them time I rmeber a few in the uk

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yes, you're absolutely right. And anyone here who disagrees potentially demonstrates that you can have a good standard of education, a high IQ, have a successful career and still be as thick as pig shit (and twice as pungent).

    3. Hermes Conran

      You're right trach....

      The effect of radioactive releases into the environment is often stated as the number of extra cancer cases. This is normally a very small number compared to the overall number of cases but there will still be a handful of people who die from cancer who would not have. It's impossible to tell which are the extra ones so there's no comeback for the people responsible for contaminating the environment.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    facts are stubborn things ...

    Let's take a look at the facts on the ground at Chernobyl and Prypiat. Not Fair and Balanced propaganda, just photographs:

    Prypiat, March 2009:

    Chernobyl, March 2009:

    And some older ones, from 2006:

    Prypiat, 2006:

    Chernobyl, 2006:


    All of them russkies must have been really ignorant for leaving in such a hurry. There was no danger whatsoever, it was all safe. All Hail Lewis Page for blowing the nuclear danger conspiracy out in the open.


    On the bright side of things, there are only 13 replies to Mr Page's latest oeuvre. Maybe that proves that paying for objective reporting doesn't pay.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They left in such a hurry

      Because of the risk of lead poisoning. Most probably rom an AK-74.

      It was the Soviet government back then. They didn't exactly care for people's feelings before taking the decision to evacuate a whole city.

      Those photographs do prove that leaving a city unattended for 25 years, it decays. No glowing mutants roaming the streets, though. Too bad, it would have made for more scary stuff than the cheesy emotional pics of abandoned toys.

      1. mmiied

        in facrt

        there is talk of making the town a mesuim as it is a pristeen exaplme of a workign sovet town that has not been disturbed by the reviooulations

      2. Anonymous Coward

        they left because of lead and AK-47

        Yeap. They left because of lead (didn't know until now that Chernobyl contaminated with lead, breaking post-facto news), and because they wer' them thar' soviet commies who didn't care about other people's feelings.

        Brilliant factual analysis.

        Had you actually spent 2 minutes looking at those photographs you would have noticed a photo of the Geiger counter going off the scale. And that was in 2009.

        Never allow the facts get in the way of paid-for spin.

  36. prefect42

    Collective Dose

    I thought we'd given up on considering any level of radiation exposure as safe in the 1960s? What should be looked at is the total release and the harm those radioisotopes do to the human population. It might only increase your risk by a tiny amount, but when several tens of millions of people are affected...

  37. Stuart Duel

    You'd have to drink a lot of water

    But humans DO drink a lot of water in a year. Not to mention the fact water is a major component of practically everything we eat and drink.

    What was your point again Mr Page?

    1. Ray Simard

      @You'd have to drink a lot of water

      Radiation levels do not stay high forever.

      1. As water is consumed, it is replaced from natural sources that are not contaminated. It is possible for this water to pick up some contaminants on the way if it passes through areas of contaminated rock, soil or whatever other geological structures it touches. Where it does, it should gradually dissolve and wash away the same matter that is contaminating it. Depending on just how natural water supplies work in that area, it may be possible for human intervention to help that along.

      2. Radioactive decay will steadily reduce the radiation levels. Those with short half-lives with rather quickly disappear. Of course, not everything of concern has a short half-life, so it remains to be seen how much and how quickly decay will pull down the dose.

      3. As Japan starts cleaning up the wreckage and residue of the tsunami, they should be continuously monitoring for radioactivity and, to the extent possible, decontaminating "hot" locations, including throwing away as much contaminated matter as they can along with the debris. If they don't drag their heels too long, it should be confined largely to the surface.

      4. Bottled water is an option. People will still be subject to topical exposure, but that is brief and should be harmless.

      5. Just keep those Geiger counters busy. There are undoubtedly plenty of tricks the people in the middle of this can come up with case by case, a lot more than we commentards can imagine here.

    2. John Robson Silver badge


      The water won't be radioactive (above normal levels) all year.

      It's won't have significant levels after a month (assuming that the contamination was a one instance release)

      An office worker needs to work 40 hours a week. They may (with flexitime) choose to work more on a Monday and Tuesday, and less on a Thursday and Friday.

      That doesn't mean that they've done too much work on Monday, just that they've redistributed their working week.

      (Sorry - not a good analogy, but the best I can come up with in zero time)

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Risks to health ...

        ... are far more likely to come from pollutants as a result of the tsunami. The mud alone will be horrendous, and now full of all sorts of decaying matter. Lots of industrial nasties will be all over the place. I'd be far more worried about those,

    3. Andydaws

      How long is the half-life of Iodine 131, Stuart?

      So, what was YOUR point?

  38. Dagg Silver badge

    Lewis - where do you live?

    I would have more faith in what you peddle if you actually lived in Chernobyl or moved to withing 10 km of Fukushima to illustrate how much you consider it to be safe!

    The nuclear industry is like the tobacco industry, it spends a considerable amount of money and effort covering up bad news.

    1. AndyC

      Cover up? Where?

      Can you let me know where I can find the position of 'Chief Cover up artist' in the nuclear industry? How many organisations try to bash nuclear?

      Give me a figure for all of this money that is spent by the nuclear industry on covering up bad news and I'll point you to the greenies spending much much more on falsifying scientific data to fit their own 'ideas'.

      The nuclear industry deals in facts. We leave the story telling to Greenpeace and their ilk.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    £5 to Lewis Page travel fund

    I'd give £5 to a fund to get Lewis Page to Fukushima. Sounds like the perfect place for his next holidays, he should take his children too. Just a week should be perfectly safe.

    He should even get a job there, I'm sure the Japanese would love to read his calm and soothing articles.

    That would mean less nonsense and off-topic articles in El Reg just to launch careers for wannabe writers, so a plus for everyone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Location of Fukushima

      I'll contribute, but just in case of confusion, the city of Fukushima itself is actually quite far from the nuclear plant, and well outside the exclusion zone. We have a plant there which has started up limited production already, despite some fairly significant earthquake damage.

      It would be a shame if the city of Fukushima become synonymous with this event.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I'd go.

      Japan's a great place for a holiday. I wouldn't want to go right now, mostly because I don't want to be a burden on their infrastructure at the moment.

      I don't know if you noticed, but apart from a reactor or two with cooling problems, they HAD A WHOPPING HUGE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI. Oh, and a couple of dams let go too, which killed quite a few people.

      I haven't seen any rabid headlines about how unsafe hydroelectric dams are, have you? If memory serves me correctly, hydro dams are VERY dangerous to live near. Ask the residents of the Piave valley below the Vamont dam in Italy - 250m(!) high waves!

    3. Adam West

      yeah right

      How about we send you, AC? Since youre so incredibly clever and clearly know infinitely more about radiation than the rest of us, perhaps you should be the one reporting from ground zero. With your family. And your friends. And your pets.

  40. Barefoot boy

    Previous background levels and source

    I've seen no information on what the radioactive iodine levels were in the drinking water prior to the accident. This is moderately important. I've seen no information verifying that the source of the radioactive iodine in the drinking water is coming from the reactors, and how. This is more than moderately important.

  41. heyrick Silver badge


    Lewis... "Citation needed".

  42. Adrian Esdaile

    Hands up everyone who lives close to a coal-fired power station...

    Especially here in Asstralia.

    Just asking.

    Google & Wiki about coal yourself.

    HINT: Thorium.

  43. bugalugs


    coffee shops, restaurants and many homes already filter what is usually heavily chlorinated water. There is extensive competition to produce the best tasting, purest water which is always provided free to clients, along with a nice hot towel to refresh. Having drunk Tokyo tap-water neat for some time I know why VERY few Japanese do so if given any choice, rogue Iodine-131 or caesium-whatever notwithstanding. Few Japanese use tap-water for anything but ablutive purposes. Let's worry about the hungry, homeless and dispossessed in the quake and tsunami-affected areas and stress less about statistically insignificant possible future effects of pollution from the damaged reactors. For the time being anyway, eh ?

    Mines the silk one...

  44. Paranoid

    No to scaremongering!

    It's good to kinow that radiation is perfectly safe and everyone is making a terrible fuss over nothing. Imagine my horror when the next article I read by the same author pointed out that if I have sex I MAY DIE!!!!!!!!

    1. mmiied

      if I have sex I MAY DIE!!!!!!!!

      for them shock prsumabily?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Unit conversion

    All I want to know is how many Becquerels per Sievert are there one Hungarian Funbag?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Three football pitches worth.

    2. mmiied


      4 micro doubble decker busses

  46. Ray Simard

    The best source for information

    I strongly recommend the IAEA website. It's factual, dispassionate and technically informative.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bring your *ss over here and enjoy our radioactive tap water if you're man!

    I am getting tired of your ever-optimistic view on the incident.

    Sure, the tap water issue in Tokyo is nowhere near that experienced in Fukushima. But even that is worrisome. And just because thyroid cancer is (presumably) treatable doesn't mean it is OK.

    So, I say, bring your *ss over here and enjoy our radioactive tap water if you're man!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Dear Sir,

    In 1957 My Aunt was hospitalised in Cheshire at the age of 10 after drinking milk after a fire at a safe government facility in Cumbria, during her life she has had her Thyroid removed, Bladder cancer and now Cataracts all during he last 30 years.

    She owes her life to being health monitored by the NHS, which no doubt has been the case for all the children of the Windscale fire. Radiation is a poison which gives cumulative damage over time, this does not necessarily lead to death, but conditions which are found in old age can affect you at middle age - such as cataracts, radiation causes cell death = ageing.

    Fallout gives a special form of Radiation (radio nuclides of Iodine and Caesium), particles drop onto a surface and build up. so the initial layer gives say 250 msv per hour and builds up a stable layer eventually after 4 hours giving 1000 msv per hour - enough for radiation sickness, if you stayed outside for 6 hours at this point you have a 50% chance of death in 5 weeks (cumulative dose 6000 msv). When you next write an article on how safe this disaster is, please go to a nuclear powerplant on fire and stand unprotected for 10 hours next to it ingesting its contamination to your hearts content.

    1. Chris Miller

      And your point is?

      I was five at the time of the Windscale fire and a damn sight closer to it than anyone in Cheshire. I've had 14 days off work in the last 38 years, so clearly exposure to radiation at an early age is good for you.

      Hint: the plural of anecdote is not data.

  49. ShaggyDoggy

    I used to love it when

    GW Bush pronounced "nuclear" as "new-killer"

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Have they measured it BEFORE the earthquake?

    Japan could have had radio-active tap water and crops since 1945, or even before, since Japan has been doing nuclear research since the 19th century.

    1. Ben Bawden

      Since the 19th century?

      I didn't know they were that advanced!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just to put this into perspective.

    1) The amout found in the water in Japan was around 250 becquerels

    2) In Japan the safe limit for children is 100 becquerels

    3) The safe limit in the UK is 500 becquerels

    The amount of contamination would actually have to double before the British govenment would consider it to be a health hazard.

    So, if this had happened in\around London the government there would still be saying that the water was safe to drink.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Becquerels per what?

      Journalists usually get this wrong with the result that others get it wrong too.

      The Bequerel is a measure of the rate at which radioactive decay is occurring. 1 Bq corresponds to 1 decay per second.

      When used as a measure of contamination it's important to state the mass or volume in which the particular number of decays is (or would be) occurring.

      The appropriate measure is Becquerels per litre, Bq/l.

  52. David Pollard

    Would a breadcrumb filter work?

    As best I can see, radioiodine levels in Tokyo tap-water only exceed by a little the strict Japanese limits. The news showed mothers who were concerned that they couldn't buy bottled water to make up milk for their infants. Panic buying has denuded the shops. Although potassium iodide tablets may be available, these do have some side-effects and it's preferable not to give them to infants.

    Does anyone know if it is possible to remove traces of iodine by adding something like lumps of hard bread to water in a jug and stirring/standing for a while so that the iodine combines with the starch and can be removed with a sieve?

    By how much might this reduce contamination levels; how long would it take for the iodine to be maximally absorbed onto the bread pieces; and what would be the most effective and simple procedure to use?

  53. Psyx


    "The only health hazard presented by the Russian disaster was from iodine ingested in milk by children."

    Give over, Lewis. If you keep this up, we'll be forced to pass a bucket 'round, so you can go camping there and prove us all wrong.

    1. mmiied

      can I go as well

      I want a trip to russer and I here they are offering trips round the town near chynobal

  54. Chris Miller

    All clear on tap water

    "Advice issued in Tokyo yesterday to avoid giving tap water to infants has been lifted after a drop in the level of iodine-131. "

  55. Stefing


    I'll stick with the opinions of experts rather than journalists, thanks.

    1. Andydaws

      Stefing, In which case....

      You'll presumably be leaving the UK for Japan, as our own experts have set a limit of 500Bq/ltr.

      Have a nice flight, and once you get there, if in Tokyo, you'll be drinking the water, as it's now reading at under 100Bq/ltr.

  56. Horizon3

    A Little Back-up for Lewis Article

    Let the flames begin:

    From the Financial Post:

    Low exposure to the Nagasaki atomic blast resulted in longer lifespans

  57. Anonymous Coward


    Seriously, we need an icon, reading all this is great fun.

    Must dash, popcorn just finished in the mircowave...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Better than...

      ...having finished in the reactor core.

      H-bar times nu etc..

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the upside

    Iodine is used to sterilise water.

    So your baby might glow in the dark, but it won't get an upset tummy

  59. Horizon3
    Thumb Up

    The Big Deal

    According to all reliable sources, the Iodine-131 level in Tokyo tap water has returned to way below the allowable limit.

    From NEI:

    "In Tokyo, the level of radioactive iodine in tap water has dropped to within safety limits Thursday. Yesterday, the Japanese government had advised against giving tap water to infants under one year old."

  60. elderlybloke

    Risk of Nuc stuff verses risk of germ stuff

    An article I read a few days ago giving much info about radiation risks in Japan , that had a photo of a woman collecting water from an overflowing manhole.

    God knows what microbes and pollutants she was going to ingest but this didn't seem to matter, only the dreaded radiation.

  61. Todgers
    Dead Vulture

    Gone a bit quiet Lewis?

    So - now it seems there is a likely reactor breech. Finally you shut your insanely optimistic trap. Better late than never.

    The hysteria over radiation risk is not good but adopting an idiotic counter standpoint does nothing to engender rationality.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Response to the latest news?

    Just curious about the location of the article that addresses todays news that one containment vessel appears to have been breached. Something about radioactive water and severe radiation burns.

    1. Andydaws

      Oh, and re the "severe radiation burns"

      Again, no burns. Taken to hospital in case inflamation results,

      From the IAEA:

      "The three were contracted workers laying cables in the turbine building of the Unit 3 reactor. Two of them were found to have radioactivity on their feet and legs.

      These were washed in the attempt to remove radioactivity, but since there was a possibility of Beta-ray burning of the skin, the two were taken to the Fukushima University Hospital for examination and then transferred to Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences for further examination. They are expected to be monitored for around four days.

      It is thought that the workers ignored their dosimeters' alarm believing it to be to be false and continued working with their feet in contaminated water."

      not the absence of the word "severe" and the inclusion of "possibility"

      You really need to start to work on the assumption that the press are hysterics.

  63. Andydaws

    No, the official involved subsequently reacted that..

    And pointed out that, since the reactor vessel is holding steam at over 200C, and the containment is holding pressure of about 2 atmospheres, the one thing there isn't is a gross breach. It's hard to get something with a hole in it to hold pressure......

    There may be some leakage from valves, perhaps.

    "...According to the officials, pressure inside the reactor core is stable and the agency doesn't believe the reactor is cracked or broken. But it says it is highly possible that radioactive materials are leaking from somewhere in the reactor...."

    Hey, but why let logic get in the way of a good scare story...

    In fact, the most likely source from the rather large amounts of water that have been poured onto the spent fuel ponds having caused an overflow, especially if there's been some fuel damage there..

  64. Andydaws

    See above, anonymous coward.

    That's what comes from reading the mainstream press without engaging Brain.

    Unless, you can think of a way to get a "breached" vessel or containment to hold pressure?

  65. Lomax

    Meanwhile, in the real world

    NewScientist are reporting that caesium and iodine leaks from Fukushima are approaching the scale of Chernobyl.

    "Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl."

    "The Chernobyl accident emitted much more radioactivity and a wider diversity of radioactive elements than Fukushima Daiichi has so far, but it was iodine and caesium that caused most of the health risk – especially outside the immediate area of the Chernobyl plant, says Malcolm Crick, secretary of a United Nations body that has just reviewed the health effects of Chernobyl."

    Yes, the situation is still less severe than Chernobyl, mainly thanks to the lack of combustible material in the cores, but this remains a very serious nuclear incident with wide ranging consequences. Many questions remain about TEPCO's handling of the crisis and we still have no resolution in sight. Lewis' cynical obstinance in the face of reality is embarrassing to The Register and I hope his fingers will be duly slapped.

    1. Andydaws

      Maybe worth pointing out, though, that....

      The WHO is the body that produced the report suggesting that there's little or no evidence of ling-term health effects from Chernobyl, and that had the Soviets evacuated the immediate area in time, issued iodine tablets and restricted intake of milk in the days and hours after the accident, even those consequences would have been avoided.

      Incidentally, I've got my doubts about those austrian models. Even with winds tending to blow the fission products out to sea, were this gneuinely Chernobyl like, we'd have seen a lot more than one or two caesium hotspots.

      1. Lomax

        And the casualty number?

        Pray do tell, how many people got ill and how many died as a consequence of Chernobyl? Have you read these studies? For example, 4000 cases of thyroid cancer in children under 16 - with a 95% five year survival rate. To you this might be trivial, a mere speck on the shiny surface of our technological triumphs - to the rest of us even a single case of cancer is a tragedy, doubly so when caused by nothing more than greed and negligence.

        1. Andydaws


          The thyroid cancer survival rate is 99%. But, leaving that aside, there's the small issue that, had the Soviets done what the Japanese have done those 4,000 cases wouldn't have happened.

          What you miss, of course, is that any discussion on energy has to be based on evaluating alternatives. Doing without is one argument - but not one you'll sell to the japanese at the moment. Thousands wil die, this year, as a result.

          And you can't base an argument on radiological damage, and argue for coal (or oil). Both put more radionucleides into the air per KWh than nuclear, even including the releases of the likes of Chernobyl and Fukushima. If your issue with Chernobyl is a putative increase in cancer rates from chronic low-dose exposure, then the same issue kills those.

          What does that leave? Gas, I suppose, but look at the numbers who die in producing it, or the accident potential of LNG tankers - sooner or later, we'll see one of those, or an onshore terminal go off with a kilotonne range blast.

          Or renewables? Basically, that's back to the scarcity argument. It takes a £90/MWh subsidy to attract anyone to build even near-onshore wind, even in a favourable market like the UK. That's double the wholesale price for all but the coldest days of the year. Pass that on to the retail market, and you're doubling retail prices. As it is, we see a couple of thousand premature deaths in all but the warmest winters. Double energy prices, and how many old folk do you thimk will be seen off each year?

          1. Lomax

            No no no

            I am pro nuclear (yes, really) but it is clear that TEPCO and the Japanese regulators have not done what they are supposed to. The Japanese nuclear industry has a long a shocking history of errors, negligence and down-right criminal activities - and I fear this may be the case in many other places. When nuclear energy goes wrong it goes so very very wrong, unlike other types of energy production. You may say we're silly for thinking that this is a problem, that is your prerogative (you'd probably say something macho about omelettes and eggs), but I believe nuclear power, like any other potentially dangerous industry, can be made safe if the people involved act responsibly and don't just stare at the bottom line. The clean up cost of Fukushima is going to cost a small fortune - and this to a country which has already suffered so much. And who's paying for this? Why the Japanese tax payer of course!

            1. Francis Boyle

              When nuclear energy goes wrong it goes so very very wrong

              That's exactly what has just been disproved.

          2. Lomax

            Splitting the hair

            And for your information, it would appear that the five year survival rate for thyroid cancer today is 96.6% - though what it was in Russia at the time I do not know. You also say nothing about the total number of deaths attributed to the Chernobyl accident - which most sources (including the UN) seem to agree is somewhere around 4000 - though a 2006 Greenpeace study puts this number as high as 93,000.

  66. Andydaws


    "re which most sources (including the UN) seem to agree is somewhere around 4000 "

    actually, to quote from the latest UNSCEAR report:

    "The observed health effects currently attributable to

    radiation exposure are as follows:

    - 134 plant staff and emergency workers received

    high doses of radiation that resulted in acute radiation

    syndrome (ARS), many of whom also incurred

    skin injuries due to beta irradiation;

    - The high radiation doses proved fatal for 28 of

    these people;

    - While 19 ARS survivors have died up to 2006, their

    deaths have been for various reasons, and usually

    not associated with radiation exposure;

    Skin injuries and radiation‑induced cataracts are

    major impacts for the ARS survivors;

    - Other than this group of emergency workers, several

    hundred thousand people were involved in recovery

    operations, but to date, apart from indications of an

    increase in the incidence of leukaemia and cataracts

    among those who received higher doses, there is no

    evidence of health effects that can be attributed to

    radiation exposure;

    - The contamination of milk with 131I, for which

    prompt countermeasures were lacking, resulted in

    large doses to the thyroids of members of the general

    public; this led to a substantial fraction of the more than 6,000 thyroid cancers observed to date among people who were children or adolescents at the time

    of the accident (by 2005, 15 cases had proved fatal);

    - To date, there has been no persuasive evidence of

    any other health effect in the general population

    that can be attributed to radiation exposure."

    Note that last paragraph.

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