back to article Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

The situation at the quake- and tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan was brought under control days ago. It remains the case as this is written that there have been no measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant or anybody else, and all indications are that this will remain …


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  1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Yeah, but...

    ...the sensible, boring truth always gets in the way of a juicy story in the red-tops!

    The only good thing to come out of it is that it keep the whole Japan situation in the public eye so they don't get forgotten about I suppose.

  2. Hermes Conran

    Thank you Lewis,

    I was begining to think you had succumbed to reality but I'm glad to hear that everything is still rosy in your radioactive world!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Go Lewis!

    As Ferdinand Foch said back in the early 20th:

    "My centre is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or rather...

      "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror ..." *

      * FDR's inaugural address 1933

      1. ian 22

        Japanese PM is "concerned"

        Perhaps if you can remain calm whilst all around you are frightened, you may be unaware of the true gravity of the situation. Or not...

        "When in danger or in doubt,

        Run in circles, scream and shout."

        It seems subatomic particles generate their own reality distortion field. In any case, I've suspected Lewis all along has been taking the piss.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          BBC has attack of common sense...

          Wow I didn't see that one coming...

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Oddly enough

            I watched BBC News 24 over the days on which the earthquake and tsunami disaster was unfolding; their coverage of the Fukushima 'event' was to my eyes quite balanced and seemed to convey only the facts, i.e. that the reactors ahd shut down during the earthquake, that backup generators failed during the tsunami and that efforts were underway to cool the still hot cores. They then covered the hydrogen explosions with very little speculation. As far as I can tell, theynever described the explosions as 'nuclear' and, certainly with the first one, made it clear that it waas only damage to the building, and not the reactor itself. They also stressed that the reactors in question were old 1960s designs and newer reactors would not suffer the same problems. I can only assume that the BBC, being a large organisation, has some journalists who like to go for the sensationalism angle, and I must not have been watching those in question.

            1. Abremms

              re: Oddly Enough

              If BBC News is anything like US news channels, there is probably a 1:5 ratio of news to utter shite. they'll do a proper news report every 6 hours, give everyone decent reporting and facts, you know, like how news is supposed to be. problem is, they then have 5 more hours to fill before the next dose of realative sanity.

              24 hour news is a TERRIBLE idea. there isn't that much news!

      2. Sebmel

        This is beyond ignorance now: it plain vainglory

        I note, Lewis, that the 'it's a triumph for the nuclear industry' claim is absent from this latest arrogant diatribe.

        I'd like to register my displeasure at The Register's descent into tabloid, shock jock, journalism. Let me put it straight for all the pro-nuclear apologists high-fiving behind Lewis' lead.

        Lewis, you shame true supporters of nuclear technology:

        True supporters don't celebrate disasters.

        True supporters don't publish apologist propaganda in attempts to mask mistakes.

        True supporters don't wallow in gutter swill fights comparing kill rates of children.

        True supporters don't provide 'comparison' and 'hysteria' smoke screens behind which bailouts are negotiated.

        True scientists have the balls to face up to errors and correct them.

        True capitalists compete of cost through competence and refinement.

        The truth, which, Lewis' juvenilia doesn't touch on is that the bailout has already started:

        BBC today:

        "In a letter, the largest fisheries group accused the government of an "utterly outrageous" action that threatened livelihoods....

        ... The government has promised compensation for the fishing industry and Tepco has already unveiled plans to compensate residents and farmers around the nuclear plant."

        I initially gave you the benefit of the doubt, Lewis. Subsequent constant red herrings have shown that to have been abused. You have set your stall out as an apologist for incompetence and you are offering no more than disaster mitigation industry PR. You are no friend if the industry. Industries supported by your type of denial descend into ripping off the tax payer.

        Any US or UK citizens should watch out for this type of misdirection: this disingenuous neo-con pseudo-capitalism which favours monopolistic, corporate welfare. It is going on regularly now and is perverting the economies of both countries.

        The latest UK example is the budget measures to prop up excessive property prices with publicly guaranteed part ownership deals... the bank will get it's money... and the risk will be taken by the gullible first time buyer and the taxpayer.

    2. lee7

      Go Lewis!

      Anywhere, but go. Now.

  4. Scott Broukell

    "Make way there ....

    ... protective plastic sheeting for Mr Page being delivered".

    That will keep the nasty ikle wadiation away for you Lewis.

    As was said the other day on this forum - it's about addressing the TRUE risk factors involved, and less about how many peeps fell off wind turbines because they didn't know how a ladder works.

    1. Anton Ivanov
      Thumb Down


      The pictures published by Stern look ugly. However a lot of the damage shown on them is actually cosmetic - not the reactors themselves. Now can we have some pictures of the Tokyo petrol refinery for a comparison please.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      German tabloid retardedness

      "Mit Schläuchen gegen den Super-GAU"

      I like the idea of describing this as a "Super-GAU", i.e. a "Super-Worst-Case-Scenario".

      The Worserest Nuclear Accident Evar!

      1. Peter0563

        Actually it does make sense

        You just need to know what that "worst case" in GAU means. The term designates the worst case accident scenario taken into consideration when designing the plant. This is the maximum the containment etc are supposed to withstand. Think three mile island.

        If things go beyond this scenario and leave the containment that's what's defined as a super-GAU

    3. Pet Peeve


      I stopped looking at the photos after the one where the safety lights were made to look like some sort of nuclear glow due to oversaturation.

      Seriously guys, we all laughed at the 911 "truthers" when they did the same thing to try to prove there was molten iron at ground zero, and we're going to keep laughing at you blatantly making s**t up.

  5. siegeld


    I'm pro nuclear. Still, there is no question that the Fukushima situation is disastrous, at the very least from a PR standpoint. There have been uncontrolled explosions, makeshift solutions, and the possibility, however remote, that something more serious could go wrong. The news reporting has been a little on the scaremonger side, but Lewis Page responds with equally bad whitewashing. Forget the tone of the news reporting, the facts have largely been reported correctly. The real worry is given how out of control the situation has appeared to be over the past few weeks, how bad could it really have been, and what risks, if any, it could get worse. Even the Japanese government and Tepco refuse to say that this situation is entirely under control, something that the "expert" Lewis Page seems to think he understands perfectly.

    Shame on the Register for giving page so much airtime for essentially repeating the same point over and over.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      "Forget the tone of the news reporting, the facts have largely been reported correctly."

      From the "nearing Chernobyl levels" part:

      "which Wotawa theorises may have been emitted from Fukushima in amounts "20-60" per cent of those seen at Chernobyl"

      So, based on a sketchy model, Iodine at 20%, possibly up to 60%, is "nearing Chernobyl levels." I would venture that "nearing" would imply a constant growth that is currently at 60% or greater with no signs of stopping. In the case of radio-iodine, it may have been detected at certain quantities, but is continually decaying and thus will NEVER reach anything "near" Chernobyl levels, since it is not being emitted anymore.

      Yes, the reactor situation was a disaster. But so was the tsunami and earthquake. The disaster was that the facility was partially ruined, not that people are "glowing." In terms of preventing a REAL disaster (meltdown) from occurring, or harmful, long-term radiation escaping, this incident was a triumph. Not bad for a worn-down, 40-yr-old reactor design. I tip my hat to these dedicated workers for their calm in this.

      1. CI100


        What triumph Ammaross Danan?

        Partial meltdown/damage of the fuel rods has occured in all three reactors operating at the time of the accident.

        Reactor no 2 containment breach is likely.

        Harmful long-term radiation has escaped.

        Worn-down 40-yr-old reactors should not be operational.

        I for one am not celebrating this triumph.

      2. CheesyTheClown

        Please don't forget the service life

        I worked on a battery backup system for the safety systems of two nuclear reactors. I was an electronics engineer on the project... back in 1996 or so. To be more correct, I was an engineer on the safety system for the batteries which backed up the safety systems. There are many levels of safety systems in place. The system we worked on monitored all 720 two volt, 275 amp batteries 50 times per minute each, logged all the levels and performed maintenance tasks such as regular unloading and reloading of the banks of cells in order to make sure that they were always at 80% charge (the ideal charge level for those cells).

        The reactors we built these for were reaching the end of their 30 year service life and would have been decommissioned and replaced with new reactors that run at MUCH higher efficiency and cleanliness, but the fear-mongers out there whined about how dangerous nuclear is and they'd much rather use the 30 year old plants which would have to be hacked and retrofitted to keep them running with under 60% efficiency while producing toxic nuclear waste as opposed to installing new reactors which run at 98% efficiency and produce relatively harmless waste (speaking strictly of the cores, not the other wastes).

        What it boils down to is, the reactors in Japan should have been shutdown and replaced a long time ago, but these days, building new reactors to replace the old ones is getting harder and harder because people are too smart to realize how stupid they really are.

        The performance of these reactors has been amazing. Beyond belief. When the plants didn't melt down outright, that was a sign of the incredible engineering skills that went into them. The fact that the workers got it under control goes to prove just how smart people like nuclear physicists really are. These are the best and the brightest people in the whole world.

        This disaster did accomplish one truly important task. Those reactors will either be taken offline permanently and replaced with modern ones or the ones which are salvageable will be retrofitted with new core technology as opposed to simply rebuilding the old design. This will make them cleaner and more efficient.

        So, those ancient reactors built in a time where we knew nearly nothing about nuclear physics will finally be replaced with something based on what we know now which is considerably more.

    2. Pet Peeve


      What do you mean "the facts have largely been reported correctly?" Other than the very rare voice of reason like Lewis, the reporting has mostly been beyond horrible.

      Shame on you for speaking out of your nether orifice.

    3. Will's

      Learning on the ground

      >There have been uncontrolled explosions, makeshift solutions,

      >and the possibility, however remote, that something more serious

      >could go wrong

      I remember when a big oil depot caught fire near that there London - I think you could level the same criticisms there, except that oil polluting the ground and fire is better understood because it happens far more often.

      Consider a less lightly disaster.

      Deepwater Horizon.

      That took months, massive environmental damage.

      Experts from all over the world unable to fix the problem as the problem was out of scope.

      Wildly varying estimates of oil in the sea.

      Food supply destroyed.

      Containment on the surface patchy.

      So yes, when accidents happen bad things go wrong.

      In big uncommon accidents learning happens on the ground, and is written up for others to learn from.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Scientist scaremonger

    the hasn't been any science in New Scientist for years

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Insert witticism about String Theory


    2. paulc
      Thumb Up


      ever since they got "captured" by the greenies and started printing global warming/icecaps melting scare stories...

  7. Arctic fox

    Lewis old chap, I (as a cautious supporter of nuclear power).......

    ........would say that you should tone down the triumphalism in your articles a touch - you are damaging the cause you wish to serve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I agree with Mr Fox here, this tone would often cause me to dismiss journalists outright, I don't trust authors who can't keep personal bias under control.

  8. Mahou Saru

    Doom Mongers....

    Shintarō Ishihara was the one thing in that really got me. When Japan shows the world how well they can act in the face of a terrible disaster (the earthquake and tsunami) he opens his mouth!

  9. Elmer Phud

    It's not Lewis's denials that scare me but . .

    . . the lack of actual information from the Japanese government. They keep not saying anything and keep chucking more resources at it. They say there are possible cracks, empty cooling pools, trying different tactics etc. yet apparently all is fine and dandy.

    It's the loud 'Nothing to worry about, nothing to see, move along please' that scares the shit out of me.

    1. Andydaws

      unmitigated b*****'s

      Have you actually looked at any of Tepco, the Japanese Government's, the Japanese nuclear heakth and safety regulator's, NHK's, the JAIF, or the IAEA's websites?

      You've got status updates coming out of your ears. Complete listings of radiation monitoring results. Data down to inlet and outlet temperatures on the reactors. Spent fuel pond temperatures. Containment temps and pressures.

      Just because you're too idle to look, or prefer to get your information from the "Daily Mail" isn't the Japanese Government's problem. It's yours.

      If anything, they're being too open. When some half-wit from the press mouths off with some idiotic concept, they don't say "don't be f***ing stupid". They say "we'll consider that possibility". Which then get's reported as "Japanese Official confirms...".

      1. Elmer Phud

        And yet

        And yet the Japanese government are filling thier trousers as they become ust a tad desparate about the situation.

        I've got updates coming from all sides and so far it tells me absolutley nothing except they are shitting themselves - still.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Yet


          Like...WTF really?

          You are bashing the Japanese government for being worried? Somebody that is leading a country that has just sustained a very large earthquake with a following devastating tsunami. And in this extremely challenging situation, where half their country is destroyed and their citizens is in danger of dying due to lack of food, shelter and power, they have to battle to avoid mass hysteria caused by a totally reckless western media. A mass hysteria that would kill thousands in any country on a good day in a good year, and in Japan atm would be threatening the relief efforts and thus threatening the lives to a rather larger group of people. You are seriously sitting in your basement writing, with that as a backdrop, comments like that?

          (btw, if the updates you "got coming" tell you nothing, then it might just be your ability to understand them that is the problem, but personally I doubt that you actually have "updates coming from all sides".)

          I am all done now. Yes, I feel much better, thank you. Thanks for your post btw, I value your opinions. Coat please!

        2. Pet Peeve


          They had one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history, a tsunami that did well nigh half a trillion dollars in damage, and had 6 reactors take a hit larger than they planned for ALL at once. If they *weren't* shitting their pants, they wouldn't be human.

          Of course this is a disaster. But making it worse than it really is, is outright irresponsible, and you really have to consider that there's ulterior motives at work because of it. I'm sure greenpeace is preparing another [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE] press release as we speak. Do brits say "Arseholes", or does "assholes" work fine too? They're that. Yeah.

          1. lpopman

            titular nonsense

            @Pet Peeve: "Do brits say "Arseholes", or does "assholes" work fine too?"

            Yes, we say Arseholes. It also sounds nicely condescending ;)

            Anyway, if a Brit says Asshole, it makes them sound like an Arsehole.

          2. Max Pritchard

            Ulterior motives

            Since when is Greenpeace's attitude towards Nuclear Power an 'ulterior motive'?

            I went onto their web-site to look at these fantastic Armageddonist Factoids and, frankly, I was underwhelmed by understated, evidence-based press releases.

            Bring me hyperbole or bring me cake!

          3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Pet Peeve

            IIRC, Greenpeace silently switched from being anti-nuclear to pro-nuclear a few years ago, when they realised that it is actually quite green compared to coal, oil, gas etc. power, and when they conceded that whilst nice in principle, there is little practical possibility of powerering our world with windmills and PV cells until the technology and cost improves quite substantially...

        3. Andydaws

          I'd obviously missed the announcement

          From Prime Minister Kan "I'm bricking it lads, I don't know about you.."

          Grow up and go check out a few of the sources I mentioned. You'll find calm, candid and rational expositions of exactly what's known, and where it's got to.

          Or, you could carry on reading the comics.

        4. Highlander


          Thy name is Elmer Phud.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            I've got updates coming from all sides

            you mean fox AND sky.

            n.b. watching the same 15 minute rolling news loop 96 times a day isn't really getting information from all sides...

            unless, that is, you are part goldfish

      2. Pperson

        Re: unmitigated BS

        Data < Information < Knowledge

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10,000 times normal

    Well, at least its not as bad as a message we had relayed to us at Church last week from someone we support in Japan reporting that radiation levels in Tokyo were "5 times normal" which was classed as "very worrying" !

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Balancing the scales of ignorance?

    I appreciate that the scale of the tsunami was far greater than the units were designed to withstand, and also that the tsunami itself has been the major cause of immediate fatalities.

    I understand that the media over hype everything, however I do not believe that Japan's government and nuclear industry are blameless in the ongoing situation.

    The articles posted have been informative but veer towards trying to minimise a situation dangerous in most peoples books.

    For sure the employees on site are to be commended for their bravery and dedication, however management responsibility for looking after a heap of toxic nuclear material should require more significant risk strategy.

    The fact that those responsible do not have appear to have had anything but limited control of all 6 reactors and specifically reactor three, which contains plutonium and is now thought to have been breached, shows that the risks of citing powerstations on a coast exposed to certain plate activity a few miles offshore and the likelihood of catastrophic tsunami action at close quarters, slightly misguided.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Control v safety

      "veer towards trying to minimise a situation dangerous in most peoples books"

      It is dangerous but not apocalyptic, yet most of the anti-nuclear posts here don't seem to be able to make this distinction.

      It's always "nuclear is not safe because if you place a reactor on every corner and without any shields and make it massively supercritical we are all going to die!". And the fact is that it is true but that's why reactors are not on every corner and they are shielded and have all sorts of safeties built into them. And what these articles are trying to say is that this protection works even in extreme and catastrophic circumstances, whether the reactors remain under full control or not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Some corrections

      Some corrections to your last paragraph are required:

      ALL current nuclear reactors contain plutonium. It is a natural by-product of the nuclear reaction. All uranium reactors use a mixture of U235 and U238. Normally about 95% U238 and 5% U235. This is necessary to get a chain reaction without the risk of a runaway chain reaction like you get in a nuclear bomb. During the splitting of U235 nucleii, neutrons are released. These get absorbed by U238 to form U239. This is unstable and, through beta decay, quickly (in a few minutes) become Neptunium 239, which is also unstable and, through beta decay, in a few days, becomes Plutonium 239.

      Reactor 3 happens to be a mixed oxide reactor which means the fuel is a mix of uranium and plutonium which in turn means there is more plutonium in the reactor. Plutonium, is worse from a health perspective than Uranium, if it is ever released.

      Primary containment on reactor 3 has not been breached. The suppression chamber has supposedly been cracked, but that isn't really primary containment. There have specifically, as far as I am aware (and please correct me with a reference if I'm wrong), been no reported cases of heavy metal radiation from Actinides.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Face -> Palm

        Shhhhhh! Don't get the panic brigade worried about Pu now!

        Interesting related fact:

        I read once somewhere (not an authoratative source, I know) that plutonium itself is actually very toxic; so toxic in fact that if you were to ingest enough to give you cancer from the radiation, you wouldn't get cancer, because you'd already be dead from the poisoning. Can anyone verify this?

        Of course, the only thing that we learn from that is that it probably best not to eat reactor fuel...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "the risks of citing powerstations on a coast exposed to certain plate activity a few miles offshore and the likelihood of catastrophic tsunami action at close quarters, slightly misguided"

      please see locations of Tokai and Onagawa power plants (also reinforcing previous commentards that, actually, you know, given that Fukushima is the Ford Cortina of nuclear plant design, its actually done bloody well, hats off to the original designers & engineers and those that have managed the situation).

      Shame on the rest of you.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Data Anyone ??

    Visualization of deaths per terawatt/hour of all energy sources. Coal is KING of course -

    1. unitron

      Killer Peatmoss?

      Very interesting graph (although why they needed Flash is beyond me, although it does let you play around with it ).

      Especially interesting is that natural gas can blow up entire neighborhoods in California and still come out with such a low death rate overall.

      I considered the beer icon as indicitive of a better use of biomass until I started wondering if the biomass figures included traffic statistics, so decided to salute the boffins behind the graph instead (in spite of Flash).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Blow up != burn down

        The San Bruno explosion caused the neighborhood to burn down. It didn't blow it up.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        why they needed Flash...

        thats to keep the fanbois out.

        last thing wee need is a critique on how the design of the stations could have been much more aesthetically in tune with its environment :D

  13. Andydaws

    Even you're falling for it, Lewis....

    Two points.

    One, no-one's sustained radiation burns. The exposed workers were identifed through normal checks. The two who've had skin contact with the contaminated water have been taken for observation in case any inflammation or burning develops. Check the IAEA website for confirmation.

    Second, re the Reactor 3 containment. It's only 2 or 3 days since the panic was over rising pressures in the containment and suppression chamber, which peaked at about 3 atmospheres.

    Now, maybe it's me, and that pesky engineering training, but I really can't quite handle the idea of a failed containment that holds significant surplus pressure for something like 72 hours, and only cools at a rate constent with steam condensing as heat is lost to ambient.

    The mainstream press has surpassed itself in recent days. Ignorance of a few basic arguments, from someone unfamiliar with engineering or issues nuclear is one thing. But what's going on now has crossed the line into wilful misrepresentation.

    1. JCB.Photorf

      I don't agree

      Whilst it is most likely true that radiation doses significantly higher than that experienced at Fukushima will result in few health problems(Cancer ?) when the exposure is limited to a few individuals.

      I do not believe that you can extrapolate that down to say that tiny radiation doses exposed to millions of people will not result in significant health problems for a few unlucky individuals out of of those millions.

      That is why Fukushima is so shocking. We accept Nuclear power on the promise that they are built not to expose significant radiation to a large population and that promise has been broken.

      Once bitten shame on you, twice bitten shame on me...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        It's good to know...

        ...that we don't demand that nuclear reactors actually heal us before they become acceptable.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        promise? how exactly

        As far as I can tell there has been no significant contaminant leak.

        Given japan has some of the tightest 'safe' limits in the world. I am only aware of 2 of these being breached - exposure of staff on site, with the levels raised from 5% of that which is known to cause illness to 10%. and the iodine in the tokyo water supply - which is a yearly limit for babies only (japan only), and for a material which naturally decays in a month or so.

        You dont need to be an expert in history to understand why the government of japan is sensitive to the effects of radiation, which adds a significant political dimension to the establishment of the limits in the first place

        Not really in the same league as chernobyl spewing great gouts of long lived heavy metals around 1/2 the globe - which still effect the commercial activities of some farmers in the UK 25 years later, but have NOT lead to notable increases in cancer rates.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Dear Naughtyhorse

          Also though tumours can be caused by radiation, infertility, mutation, damage to tissue and immune systems will be far more common. It also causes ageing, especially in the young (cell damage and cell death are the ageing process, nothing harms cells like radiation). There are therefore no real 'safe' levels just like there are no real safe levels for toxic chemicals. Only levels of acceptable risk for the moment.

          I assume you are from the UK as I am, however you may not have had family who were exposed to Windscale as children, I did. It has very long term heath effects which hit you throughout your life - in fact shortening it and without the NHS ending it. Our expected cancer and disease rate from the victims is not monitored like Chernobyl as it is masked in private patient data which has raised the expected general disease and death rates expected of the whole population. In other words as a secretive society pre 1957 we have only limited data as to what our disease and cancer rate before the nuclear age should be which is nothing compared to Soviet Europe which was far more secretive.

      3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        @I don't agree

        "We accept Nuclear power on the promise that they are built not to expose significant radiation to a large population and that promise has been broken"

        What exactly do you mean by "significant" here? I assume you mean a measurable increase in disease/death for the individuals exposed, in which case I suspect Lewis is right, this is a non-even for all but a few workers, and even they are probably OK (going by the study of the Brits involved in the Windscale fire in the 1950s).

        Oh, and you might want to check out the exposure to carcinogens we get from coal and other hydrocarbons, both trace radioactivity and soot, etc. Seen any of of China's industrial cities recently (when not cleaned up for the Beijing games)?

        Yes, nuclear is risky, potentially very much so, but it has to be weighed up against all of our other power sources risks and drawbacks. This is something Joe Public is poor at and not helped by scientifically illiterate politicians & news outlets hell bent on publicity.

      4. Dave K
        Thumb Down

        And the others?

        One thing I'm still amazed at is that people keep on forgetting that there are risks and fatalities involved with ALL forms of energy.

        How about those who are killed during the construction of wind turbines? Or those who die during coal mining disasters? Or those who are killed on gas / oil platforms? Why are fatalities with these forms of energy considered acceptable, yet the tiny risks of nuclear are not? And if you're talking about the general public, how about the health concerns from soot which is pumped into the atmosphere?

        The health implications of nuclear so far have been better than most other forms of energy, yet people like yourself still seem to panic hysterically at the sheer thought of it. Why is this?

      5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


        Your logic and ability to understand the issues here must be inversely proportional to your ability to mix metaphors.

        For future reference, it is:

        "Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you"


        "Once bitten twice shy"

        Also, to make it perfectly clear; the epedimiological data on increased risk of cancer in a general population from exposure to readiactive elements is well known. This is known from such things as Chernobyl, which caused a very low increase in thyroid cancer rates, and two large cities in Japan which had nuclear bombs dropped on them in the 1940s, but somehow still manage to have lots of healthy un-mutated people living there, and very few attacks from Godzilla to boot. I'd also like to note, that having mentioned it, I do not condone the use of nuclear weapons, just in case someone out there feels like twisting my words...

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


          Actually, looking at it, that "fool me once etc." one may be the other way round, Either way, it's a somewhat trite and pointless saying.

  14. Anonymous Hero

    Unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy

    Those are my impressions of all of the "respected" news outlets (BBC, Sky, etc). It's shame that you can no longer believe a word they say anymore just because they have to keep the critical mass of excitement going to keep viewers hooked during their ridiculously short 20-30min news (re-) cycling.

    I wonder if they bothered to follow up the resultant long term health risks that were posed by the Buncefield oil fire from the toxic cocktail of chemicals that spewed into the atmosphere for days on end.

    But sadly it's not nuclear so no salacious headlines to be grabbed off the back of radiation poisoning which is way more exciting apparently than a dose of lethal organic chemicals.

  15. envmod

    broken record

    i'm getting bored of reading this same story every day from lewis. i don't give a fuck one way or the other if i'm honest, but i certainly get that lewis is pro-nuclear and that's great. just like, shut up about it now yeah?


    1. Rob Beard

      Hang on...

      ...who is forcing you to sit and read Lewis's articles?

      If you don't like them don't read them.

      Just as much as if I have no interest in the latest Apple article I won't read it.

      Simple really. :-)


      1. GuyC

        But You'll be compelled to comment on it!

        nuff said

  16. AdmV0rl0n


    I'm not sure why Lewis is gobbing off so much. I'm pro Nuclear. And I don't entirely have a 'blame' theory on Japan or its gov or its Nuc industry. Its not easy to make a 9.0 proof structure and make it water proof against 10 meter monster tides. There are real limits to humanities ability to control and maintain things in the face of such scales of megadisaster.

    But I suspect that the site is highly radioactive, and a very dangerous place top spend time, and that workers being limited to only minutes there is a critical reality of the situation on the ground. I doubt any of the 6 reactors will ever really be operational again, and that cleaning the disaster up will take years, and the radiation clean down and clean up will be expensive, slow, and leave a nasty taste in the mouth there for a seriously long time.

    Being happy that it did not spin up to a class 7 disaster, we should all be. But at the same time, down playing the real disaster doesn't make anyone smart or clever. The fact is, there was enough luck involved in avoiding a class 7 that sober consideration and examination are the only paths to follow. There will be much we can learn from this, and it will provide benefits the nuclear industry can learn from.

    It_is likely that many people will die due to this, so the clowing around and stupid grandstanding ready should be toned down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      that is not the issue, yes it could have been significantly worse and yes im sure tehy will learn from this for many decades to come, this issue is the way in which mainstream media outlets have handled this. Its very disapointing, i heard on the radio today about the 10,000 times increase and thought instantly that that sounds like horse xxit, so i got home, did some digging and low and behold, it was nonsense. Im sorry, but whilst Lewis does tend to dress things up a bit its more accurate than the tripe that is comeing out of the BBC. a news channel is supposed to report the news, not make it up, and what the hell is the point of it at all if you have to check their reporting out yourself to get an accurate picture of whats going on?? teh BBC has lost a lot of credability in my eyes on this one, and ive voiced my thoughts to them on the matter, as well as some simple guide lines for checking there "facts" before reporting them.

    2. Ben 42

      Re: Hmm

      "But I suspect that the site is highly radioactive, and a very dangerous place top spend time, and that workers being limited to only minutes there is a critical reality of the situation on the ground."

      You suspect? Well, I'm convinced. After all, those pesky facts just get in the way of my decision-making process anyway. Much better to go on completely unfounded suspicion.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not 9.0

      If the reactor had been hit by a 9.0 earthquake it would have been turned to dust; it was hit by something like a 7.4 quake and a (possibly) 30' wave.

      Anyway, we'll not know the truth about what's been emitted and how close we came to a disaster (particularly in the dry and overstocked storage pools) for years, or however long it takes for whistleblowers to get some "internal" documentation out.

      Everyone involved has a vested interest in keeping things minimized. The government obviously has a genuine duty to prevent a panic which would almost certainly kill more people one way or another, the company will be frantic to pin everything on the quake and not on their own proven track record of bad management (the pools will feature here again, I think), and the various international atomic authorities and monitors depend on atomic power for their pay-packets so they're not going to be terribly keen to see it scaled back, are they? There's big bucks in this disaster for a lot of people.

      If Lewis could do a follow up in 2042, after the various documents have been unsealed, I think he might write something a little more balanced than his recent screed of uninformed cheerleading.

      Of course, by 2042, the question about what to do with the nuclear waste from these reactors will still be several millenniums from being sorted out. But we don't want to talk about that in the new pro-nuclear age we're apparently living in, do we? The magic pixies will sort it out.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The situation IS improving

    The biggest risk was that there was radioactive stuff that could leak from the stricken reactors. After the last week there is LESS of this stuff left in the reactors. So the situation is BETTER now than it was last week, and it is IMPROVING all the time! (You can use this next Friday Lewis!).

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Great stuff, but

    Come on, at least make me laugh. Read all the comments this time and wonder where the regulars are. At least this balances the media political legal ..... Do I have to get another pint and wait

  20. Scott Broukell

    I was taught from an early age ...

    ... to take everything I read about nuclear energy with a pinch of salt.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Evidently you are in good company

      As so do the reactors!

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Iodised salt?


  21. Luther Blissett

    May I be the first?

    To welcome our Old Headless Chicken Overlords?

  22. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    ...that people who cheerily accept that anything called a "reactor" should explode at any hint of malfunction, destroying the associated starship, battlestar, planet etc, while watching a SciFi movie are not able to appreciate when a real reactor remains essentially contained after having been shaken, hit by a wall of water, disconnected from power and mined, I find.

  23. Levente Szileszky
    Paris Hilton

    Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf aka Baghdad Bob aka Iraqi Information Minister is back...

    ...but this time he's decided not to use his most famous line: "Our initial assessment is that they will all die."

    I wonder why...? ;)

    Since it's TL,NR (there's only too much nonsense I can digest in one sitting) I can only offer my personal Baghdad Bob fav: "[the war was a] very difficult time. Not just on one man, but on all."

    My personal fav from our new BB: "So - basically nothing happened. Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn."

    PRICELESS and TIMELESS quotes, indeed.

    Paris because LP just (b)reached her level.

    1. Pet Peeve


      Nice strawman you're kicking the stuffing out of there, Sparky.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Little Information is a Dangerous Thing

    It seems that a lot of the media panic has been based on two things.

    The first is misunderstanding the information fed to them. Such as knowing what radiation levels being 10,000 times normal actually means.

    The other is willfully twisting the words of experts. In one interview I heard on radio the expert in question was discussing a worst case scenario where the fuel rods could be exposed to the atmosphere. The interview was calm, balanced and rational. Later that same day I heard on the same station that it was likely that the fuel rods would be exposed to the atmosphere.

    It happens a lot with the BBC. In one area of their output you get what seems to be factual balanced reporting. Then later that same day you can go to another BBC source (usually the ten o'clock news) to get sensationalist scaremongering.

    1. Quxy

      Not at all

      Nor is it true that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" (the other common misquotation). The very nature of the scientific endeavour is to make as much sense as possible out of incomplete and often apparently contradictory information.

      In fact, Alexander Pope accurately noted that "A little _learning_ is a dangerous thing". This is a far different problem, and one that more accurately applies to the situation at hand.

      [Interestingly, the same poem contains the better-known quotations “To err is human, to forgive divine” and “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. I leave the application of those to the scaremongering situation as an exercise to the interested reader...]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who's quoting

        I wasn't quoting anybody. In the case of the news media it is true that a little information can be a dangerous thing. It's common for the news media to be given a little information and in the absence of other information build it up into a huge edifice of a story. Had the Japanese authorities been a little more free with the information then the news media would have had a hard time getting into such a panic.

        Of course if journalists did what they are expected to do (ie a little research) then they probably wouldn't produce the sort of shite they so often do. However these days journalism seems more than ever to be based upon quickly padding out a press release and calling it a story.

        Only last week I was involved in a story where an idiot local journalist based 90% of a story on something he had been told by a campaigner. Unfortunately there was not one jot of truth in what the campaigner had told him and without that "fact" the story wasn't newsworthy at all. Just a local journalist you say? National and international level journalists aren't as lazy? Oh yes they are. The only difference is that they get paid more.

  25. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Natural process

    I would like to hear environmentalists' opinion regarding the outrage of running a boiling water reactor *uncontained* for hundreds of thousands of years, without any supervision and not just anywhere, but in Africa - that cradle of humanity!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So it was radiation poisoning...

      ... that killed off the dinosaurs ?

      Or are you saying that we human evolution was caused by DNA mutation caused by all that radiation ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Natural process

      Yes, it's very interesting to read about, but as relevant to criticism of "environmentalists" as pointing at the sun and claiming that they will all want to shut it down because it too is some kind of "nuclear thing". Lewis's "technofear" claims are all about this kind of irresponsible attitude projection - it's a classic debating technique to discredit one's opponents.

  26. a_mu

    This is Rumor Control. Here are the facts!

  27. Sean Baggaley 1

    For those who insist that nuclear is unsafe...

    ... I have two names for you to type into Google:

    1. Vajont Dam

    2. Banqiao Dam

    More people have been killed by those two renewable energy sources *alone*, than have *ever* been killed, or injured, by nuclear power.

    The reason these reactors are getting so much ghoulish attention is the same reason the Ladbroke Grove and Great Heck rail accidents in the UK were treated with similar overreaction: it's good entertainment. It's rubbernecking. It's part of a long tradition of peering over the police "Crime Scene Do Not Cross" line to catch a glimpse of a mangled car, or a dead body.

    The media portrays what it thinks the people want to see. Judging by the continued successes of "Schadenfreude" soap operas like "Casualty" and the endless variations on "CSI" and its ilk, which revolve primarily around bad things happening to other people, it's clear they're not that wide of the mark.

  28. me n u

    I'm all for nuclear power

    as long as it's in someone else's yard! I say let's burn coal, and lots of it! (No, I do NOT have stock in coal, yet). I say let's cover the planet with solar panels and windmills! Let's build natural gas plants.

    And...let's build those nuclear reactors in someone else's yard!

    More seriously, IMO, we should build what is needed to continue having electricity for everyone. I don't care if it's coal, gas, nuclear, wind or solar. Cheap and safe is good. I do believe nuclear is a lot safer than the Japanese crisis is making it look. Remember the magnitude of that quake! I'd call this event a "worst case scenario", and it's an older design.

    1. Abremms

      did you know

      did you know that, thanks to coal ash, and the complete lack of containment, you actualy receive higher doses of radiation living within 50 miles of a coal plant than you do within 50 miles of a nuclear plant?

      not to mention all the other horrible bits that get released by the daily operation on a coal plant. a Nuclear plant might let out some nasty stuff in a disaster, but coal does so on a daily basis.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    So? People panic?


    I'm sure NHK reported the water as being 10,000 times more active than normal in a reactor core


    Hmmm. Let's build a nuclear reactor, store the spent fuel rods right next to it (well, maybe 500 - 1500 of them), and balance 5, 10, 15, 20, ... tonnes of equipment over the storage pool containing all those spent fuel rods. Might that be a reason for people panicking?

    ps: did you see those radiation suits? Polythene bags wrapped around legs and feet held in place with tape? It looked as if the soles of the suits were fraying on hard, damaged surfaces.

  30. Alan Johnson

    Callous and ihumane reporting of events

    Tens of thosuands have died. There is immense hardship and huge numbers of peopel will be affected for a very long time. There have been catastrohpic failures of safety systems (Tsunami defences) resulting in many deaths.

    What is reported?

    DIstortion ridden nuclear hypebole relating to miniscule future risks.

    Why does the media prefer this to real stories? It shows a deeply cynical and callous disregard for the suffering caused by the real disaster in Japan.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Reply to: Callous and ihumane reporting of events

      To be fair I think NHK is ding a sterling job balancing fact with individual accounts and the bigger general picture.

      And while there will be (there blinking ought to be) good lessons learned whether earthquake, tsunami or nuclear I have the greatest respect and utmost regard of the people of Japan and how they do things.

      In the UK how many times does one hear apologies from organisation leader about letting people down?

      One NHK reporter visited the now devastated city where he grew up and his reactions and reporting with tears in his eyes yet with resolve said much more than the el reg article could ever aspire to. (saying that I welcome and encourage el reg to continue - we do need technical and scientific rationalism).

      The IT angle?

      Were it not for modern ICT this whole episode would be a Page 4 paragraph.

  31. Jay_x386

    Get your coat

    scare mongering or not. When an exclusion zone is enforced by the men in white coveralls with gieger counters...... me and my family are gonna be heading for the hills. I ain't waiting around for a journalist, even from El reg, to say it's fine.

    When they say don't give tap water to babies under 1, are you seriously going to let your 2 old drink it ? Are YOU going to drink it... really... really are you going to drink it ? No, thought not.

    Just glad there's no nuclear power stations near me, O'wait Dungerness, East Sussex. North Coast of France, erhmmm, Nuclear Power is errr safe, it's just that pesky waste, it'll be fine in 100,000 years,

    Care to comment on nuclear waste Lewis ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Heading for the hills now?

      So the problem is nuclear waste all of sudden?

  32. JeffyPooh

    I am X-127...

    I think that I might read "Level 7" again tonight.

    Give myself a real good scare.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    20 percent seems a lot actually

    Am I being unreasonable, or could 20-60% be quite reasonably described as 'nearing Chernobyl levels'?

    ... but this seems *much* too much to me - are you sure this Australian chap hasn't forgotten a decimal point somewhere? I mean, there was a massive hole in chernobyl's reactor for weeks on end, and a fire to launch all the nasties into the atmosphere and everything...

    1. Vic


      > could 20-60% be quite reasonably described as 'nearing Chernobyl levels'?

      The speed limit on UK motorways is 70mph. 20% of that is 14mph.

      Could 14mph be reasonably described as "nearing the national speed limit"?

      Even 60% is 42mph. That's not "nearing" the speed limit either.

      I don't know whether 20-60% of Chernobyl levels is serious, but it's certainly not "nearing" Chernobyl levels.


    2. Highlander


      I think the decimal slipped a couple of places...

  34. Godless

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks

    Ignorance used to be bliss,

    sadly I think that the inherent risks involved in this industry, prove to me we should be looking at the alternatives and fast, you simply cant plan for the unexpected, the consequences of a total failure of any instillation are unrecoverable and will last for generations is this a price we can justify with risk analysis and disaster recovery models, I think not.

  35. oyster

    So this article in the New York Times is totally bogus?

    Lewis Page what on Earth are you smoking?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      This is the NYT!

      Home of "Uranium From Niger" and "Saddam's Aluminium Tubes" Citing lots of anonymous sources again.

      The IAEA just says:

      "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."

      What to believe?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Compared to what?

        20,000+ dead because of an earthquake + tsunami?

        This is an industrial accident. An issue for the health 'n' safety exec. A case for Big F' Radioactive Deal! Good luck with the X-Ray at the dentist, cancer-boy!

    2. Efros

      Probably something good

      Seems the principal reason for enlarging the evacuation zone isn't to do with spreading radiation but more to do with the logistics of supplying those people within the area who are confined to their homes

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Bogus may be a bit strong.

      Liberalist propoganda.


  36. Steve Farr
    Black Helicopters

    Conspiracy! Oh ha ha. Really?

    Ok so while we're all gawping at impending nuclear doom, hey people there was an ***EARTHQUAKE*** going on with continuing significant seismic activity going on all around. You know, like killed 22,000 significant? Oh yeah right that one.

    Now i'm just gonna say this once but...

    HAARP!!!! don't go away, i'm being serious here! Stop! Wait a minute!!!

    Look a the facts (ignore Youtube conspiracy theorists for the moment). What happened?

    1) Check the magnetometers. Tokyo Uni have a nice one actually showing data on HAARP's site. What did it show? Around 2.5Hz, some very loud and very unusual activity kicking in at around 0530 on the 8th March all the way through to the 11th March. Doesn't look natural on my graph, no not at all. Talking sub-ELF here.

    2) Check the POES auroral activity northern hemisphere plots. What did they show? The auroral horse shoe shape is significant because it tracks the noon meridian. Not only was the ionosphere heated up significantly but it was skewed between two points: The sun's position and HAARP. So that makes for significantly powerful effect right? How powerful?...

    ‎"The HAARP antenna array consists of 180 antennas on a total land area of about 35 acres. The array, along with its integrated transmitters, has a total radiated power capability of about 3,600 kilowatts."

    You getting this? BTW i don't do conspiracy theories i just do facts. But you gotta admit its very difficult to get people to take notice when there is all this nuclear fear going on in the media.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      3,600 kilowatts eh?

      That's like three vacuum cleaners in a row.

      1. Guido Brunetti

        Not really

        That's like three *thousand* vacuum cleaners in a row (3,6 Megawatts)

      2. Anonymous Coward

        What i'm talkin about!

        THREE big gens lookin like Concord engines slurpin at that surplus naturale gas that ain't goin anywhere outta laska. Like pissin' it up the drain, consider ur ionosphere well n truly fossil fueled up t the boiling point.

        Fact is, if aliens show'd up in big fat flyin saucers right now it cudn't get any worse. I figure this cud even be as bad as teh BP snake oil disaster. Except this time it's ol BEA lined up for the oops shuddu not hit that button award (knew ther wuz a reason why Raytheon didnt want this gig anymore). Oh yeah jus waitin 4 old Emporor Jap' to wake up and sheeeeeeew the BEAstards.

        Honest i cant take anymore of this. Gotta be story hangin off this extended boot note. I say get some hacks on it right away!

        1. Anonymous Coward


          BAE LOFL.


    2. Pet Peeve

      You have got to be kidding

      Ladies and gentlemen - we present the only HAARP conspiracy loon left on the planet. He'll be here all week, enjoy the veal!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Is that a fact!


      You know why it's not *credible* tho? No modern hack will follow it. No way if its not attached to some middle-class liberalist agenda somewhere.

      Conspiracy theory is just the flip-side to some bunch of senators queuing up to pump $$$$$ into burning off some oil field in some remote God-loved part of uncle Sam. What's good the planet haz got to be good for the planet now eh?

      Did you check senators backing DoE bankrolling STS-134 all because Dr Ting used the word ENERGY instead of *matter* (anti-matter alpha particles from a galaxy far far away)? See what i mean? Dunno about conspiracy. Just plain stupid politicians being ther stupid selves while Professor Frankenheimer gets do his macho physics project.

      22,000 tho. Life is soo cheap though these days, you not agree? Duck and cover eh?

  37. xperroni

    Tokyo tap water

    Funny that people in Tokyo would need being told not to drink water from the tap. Folklore has it that Tokyo's water supply was never very clean to begin with – allegedly the city is the biggest consumer of mineral water bottles per capita in Japan. Moreover, Tokyonites in other sites I visit commentted that, due to the shopping stampede in the quake's aftermath, water bottles were already absent from market shelves long before that recommendation came out.

    So yeah, quite the non-story this thing about the water.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Let them drink sake!

      and other sake comments. Reminds of back in 80's Wapping when i had to clean my teeth using perrier water.

  38. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Compared to the US papers...

    I'll take Lewis any day. He's got at least a glimmer of the situation and the ability to apply a little intelligent skepticism to the Chicken Little situation out there.

    Even if he's a little over the top the other direction, he's nothing compared to the "OMG BAYBEEEZ ARE DYINGGG!!! THREE HEADED GOATS GLOWING IN THE DARK!!!" garbage passing for journalism right now.

  39. DashBerlin

    About the much hyped Chernobyl accident

    Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident

    "Joint News Release WHO/IAEA/UNDP

    5 September 2005 | Geneva - A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.

    As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.

    The new numbers are presented in a landmark digest report, “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts,” just released by the Chernobyl Forum. The digest, based on a three-volume, 600-page report and incorporating the work of hundreds of scientists, economists and health experts, assesses the 20-year impact of the largest nuclear accident in history.


  40. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Lewis, you'll love this one

    Nuclear radiation 'the greatest public health hazard'

    My favourite bit:

    CNN: "Is it possible to have a safe nuclear power plant?"

    Caldicott: "No. They are very complicated machines containing the energy released when an atom is split: Einstein's formula e=mc², the mass of the atom times the speed of light squared. Anything can go wrong: natural disasters, failure of cooling systems, human and computer error, terrorism, sabotage. Radioactive waste must be isolated from the ecosphere for half a million years or longer, a physical and scientific impossibility, and as it leaks it will concentrate in food chains, inducing epidemics of genetic diseases, leukemia and cancer in all future generations, the greatest public health hazard the world will ever see."

  41. Mikel

    It's too soon to call this one.

    Let's talk about a narrowly averted disaster when the crisis is over, OK? Until then let's continue to hope for the best and praise the workers struggling to limit the damage.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    paranoia rules

    What do you expect to happen, the paranoia associated with the average american, and don't say there isn't, look at McArthur and the hunt for those pesky commies! Look at Bush and Weapons of Mass Destruction and that is just people that were in power.

    The media here in the USA just feed off things and make things worse, look at the drudge report and the number of paranoid faux headlines that he has posted to make things sound worse than they are.

    I live less than 30 miles from one of those 'identical' nuclear power stations here in California and I am not in the least worried about an earthquake, I am not worried about the radiation from Japan.

    Before I moved to the states and there was Chernobyl, wasn't worried about that either. In fact I don't think many British were that concerned but jeez, Americans are acting like the Japanese have attacked them with a nuclear bomb or two....whoops, wasn't that the other way round?

    You can't go into a drug store without having to listen to a line of people, half of them coffin dodgers that are on their last legs demanding Iodine pills because they don't want to die from radiation sickness.

    Should give them all a few aspirin and send them on their way and they would be quite happy LOL thinking that they have Iodine pills.

    1. disgruntled yank

      somewhere, perhaps, but not here

      I ride public transportation to work, walk along crowded city streets, etc. I have heard very little comment about the Japanese crisis apart from the occasional "what a shame" sort of comment, or mentions of moneys to be raised for assistance.

      The media here (and I think not only here) does have a sweet tooth for the sensational story. Perhaps that is why you associate paranoia with the average American? If you can see through stories about disasters hither & yon, perhaps you should exercise your critical faculties when watching "man in the street" interviews.

      (Also, perhaps you should exert yourself to distinguish MacArthur from McCarthy. Yes, by golly, they were both Americans, and No by golly they did not favor Communists, but they were still quite different persons.)

  43. Phil Koenig

    The battle of the ideologues

    Yes, the press has been ignorant on some points and exaggerated things in some cases. But then you have the people on the other side of the fence that aren't doing us any favors by minimizing things, either.

    The Japanese government have prohibited the sale of various foodstuffs from the region due to radioactive contamination, as well as issued the well-known Tokyo etc water warnings. Governments from around the world including most of the top "advanced western democracies" including the top nuclear power-producers in the world have banned imports of Japanese food due to concern over radioactive contamination.

    The entire situation has been mis-handled both technically* and from a PR standpoint by the Japanese government and by TESCO - a firm which has a long history of nuclear coverups.

    Waving it all away as some sort of political ploy (ie "the mayor of Tokyo wants to make his political rivals look bad") or 100% willful ignorance on the part of the mainstream media is wishful thinking to say the least.

    (I believe that one reason the media are mis-reporting things is that they, like myself, are still in the process of educating themselves on the finer points of what constitutes a dangerous radioactivity measurement, and the fact that nuclear accidents are still such rare and uncharted territory it's not extremely surprising that everyone including journalists are nervous about the implications.)

    *(Dumping SEAWATER on the reactors from helicopters? Is this some sort of cartoon, or just a bad dream?)

    1. Andydaws


      "The entire situation has been mis-handled both technically* and from a PR standpoint by the Japanese government and by TESCO - a firm which has a long history of nuclear coverups."

      I shall boycott the bastards immediately. Building their radioactive superstores all over the place. Waitrose rules.

    2. ThomB


      Good joke...

      1. Abremms


        I get the impression from looking at what numbers are available that the food bans and "don't drink the water!"s have far more to do with the general public's fear and a need to see their leaders doing something to address those fears than it does with any real signifigant threat.

        in this way, the media is being unhelpfull in the extreme. there are people in Japan who cannot get aid because the rest of the world is too afraid of the radiation boogie man to help out.

    3. Phil Koenig

      TEPCO - sorry. BUT..

      Yep, I realized after I posted that I goofed with the acronym.. and most of us statesiders probably wouldn't have noticed, since there's no Tesco here. :P

      On another note: I haven't spotted any more gloating posts by Mr Page now that radioactive material has been draining into the sea, plutonium has been detected in the soil, and they STILL haven't figured out how to cool the reactors over there. (They did however make a nice radioactive mess by dropping seawater out of the sky, though)

      The Japanese government is now considering expanding the evacuation perimetre yet again.

      Yep - build more reactors!

  44. petur
    Dead Vulture

    Lewis FAIL

    Funny how Lewis keeps repeating his same old iodine loop again and again. Yes we know about the half-life of 8 days.

    That's probably why NOWHERE is the damn article he mentions that next to iodine there was also caesium-137 detected in the food, which has a half-life of about... 30 years. Probably didn't fit in his nice little story.

    Can we stick to the FACTS please? I hate the media scaremongering as much as anybody else here, but exaggerating to the opposite direction doesn't do much good either.

    (I get my info from the IAEA reports, would't trust this Lewis chap if I were you)

    1. Steve X


      > NOWHERE is the damn article

      Well, apart from the paragraphs on page two, starting with:

      "There wouldn't be a lot of point in doing so in the case of radio-caesium, as nobody has ever been able to show that this isotope has any health consequences at all: huge amounts were emitted from Chernobyl, but no discernible illnesses have resulted."

    2. Rune Moberg

      @petur concerning caesium

      Read the article again. CTRL+F and type "radio-caesium".

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Read FAIL

      "There wouldn't be a lot of point in doing so in the case of radio-caesium, as nobody has ever been able to show that this isotope has any health consequences at all: huge amounts were emitted from Chernobyl, but no discernible illnesses have resulted."

      The IAEA says:

      "Deposition of radioactivity is monitored daily by Japanese authorities in all 47 prefectures. From 23 March to 24 March, additional deposition has been detected in 7 of the 47 prefectures. Considerable variations are observed, the deposition at this day ranged from 42 to 16,000 Becquerel per square metre for iodine-131; the highest value determined for caesium-137 was 210 Becquerel per square metre. For the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, the deposition of iodine-131 on this day increased by 13,000 Becquerel per square metre, and the caesium-137 deposition by 160 Becquerel per square metre."

      160 bq/m² .... not a whole lot.

    4. Ben 42

      Missed the second page, did you?

      No pun intended, of course.

      I count at least 5 mentions of caesium, including yet another explanation of why it's not the focus as far as health risks go. If you have information to the contrary I'm sure everyone would love to hear it, but as it stands all you're doing is joining the masses screaming "OMG radiation! We're all going to diiiiiiie!!!".

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: (untitled)

      "There wouldn't be a lot of point in doing so in the case of radio-caesium, as nobody has ever been able to show that this isotope has any health consequences at all: huge amounts were emitted from Chernobyl, but no discernible illnesses have resulted."

      There's your bit about caesium.

    6. Andydaws

      "next to iodine there was also caesium-137 "

      And the relative quantiites of the two were?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      From the US governement's CDC website (

      "External exposure to large amounts of Cs-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness, and even death. Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of exposure to high-energy gamma radiation. Internal exposure to Cs-137, through ingestion or inhalation, allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue, exposing these tissues to the beta particles and gamma radiation and increasing cancer risk"

      US Environmental protection agency (

      "Like all radionuclides, exposure to radiation from cesium-137 results in increased risk of cancer. Everyone is exposed to very small amounts of cesium-137 in soil and water as a result of atmospheric fallout. Exposure to waste materials, from contaminated sites, or from nuclear accidents can result in cancer risks much higher than typical environmental exposures. "

  45. Anonymous Coward

    You have completed level 6 - next level: annihilation

    The Fukushima disaster has just been upgraded to a level 6 incident (like the French said all along), meaning it is now worse than Three Mile Island (level 5).

    1. Andydaws

      That appears to be news to the IAEA

      who oversee such matters.

      Isn't "zerohedge" the website that, a week or so ago, was assuring us that there were satellite images of the exposed cores, glowing and visible from space?

      Not perhaps the most credible of sources.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Duh? Wuh?

      "Only Chernobyl is a Level 7 event. We believe Fukushima should get there within 2 weeks as ever more of the current devastation becomes public."

      Oh yeah? It's like Chernobyl it's only that no-one has noticed it yet? Probably because Japan has recently rejoined the Soviet Block.

    3. Highlander

      Have you ever looked at...

      ...the actual facts of Three Mile Island? Or for that matter, looked at how the INES scale is defined?

      A level 6 incident doesn't specifically involve any deaths from radiation, it's definition simply talks of a significant release of radioactive material. Since a substantial quantity of radioactive iodine has obviously been released at Fukushima via the steam venting, this may class as a '6'. However, you could actually have an incident where far stronger, longer lived isotopes were release inside a nuclear facility resulting in deaths and it would be classed a '5' on the same scale. The point being that the INES scale is a numerical way to classify something, but it's such a broad classification and doesn't do a good job of specifics.

      Regarding Three Mile Island, the reactor core damage there may actually be more severe than the core damage sustained by any one core at Fukushima.

      The biggest element behind the INES 6 classification at Fukushima is the conservative nature of the Japanese officials and the world's media and it's rather uneducated panic at the release of short lived radioactive iodine. When all is said and done, this will be a 6 because the entire plant has to be scrapped, and that can only be described as a serious accident. Then again, when you consider how much damage was done by the earthquakes (9.0 followed by 3 7.0+ after shocks and 50+ 6.0+ aftershocks) and the Tsunami( at least one of 10M), it's not so surprising that the subsequent damage to the plant will be impossible to repair considering the state of the site.

      1. Horizon3
        Black Helicopters

        I have never put much faith in INES numbers.

        The INES numbers are put out by people, many of who are at best against nuclear power, and are not really that fond of any other reasonable forms of energy either.

        I doubt seriously if they will scrap the whole plant. Units 6, 5 were shut down and are cooling without incident and Unit 4 was shut down for maintenance and was not even fueled.

        Unless there is structural damage to their containment's they just need cleaned up repaired and put back to work.

        Units 3, 2 and 1 are toast, they have had boiling seawater in them, and even if they are not visibly damaged, they will never pass a corrosion or NDT test again, they are junk iron now.

        My hope is that they can get the units that will work, up and running very soon, as the people are going to need all of the power they can get to repair the damage to the rest of their country.

        In the interim the so called massive leak and consequent radiation spike smeared around by the press today, was found to be BS of the first order. Not surprising just disappointing that they are still fear mongering to sell air time and papers.

  46. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Attribution required

    It would be nice just occasionally to see "WNN is the mouthpiece of the nuclear industry" when quoting. Maybe something less polemic but all the same noting who is paying that particular piper.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One mans efforts to B.S. the world

    Lewis Page must be on a campaign to B.S. the world over the nuclear accident in Japan. How else can one explain the totally absurd stories he writes on the subject.

    The Japanese prime minister has stated that: "we can not be optimistic" regarding the nuke melt down concerns as the emergency response teams have lost control over some of the reactors and the contaminated water in one reactor is 1000 times the normal level. According to the prime minister the situation is: "very grave and serious". Testing of food and water supplies in the area show increasing levels of radiation.

    What part of this nuclear disaster was "brought under control days ago" ?

    Denial may be useful in some cases for self-preservation, but in this case it looks more like Lewis is just plain ignorant of what's actually happening in Japan, in addition to being in denial.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ps: on the leaks

    I hope these are related to the flow from reactor to turbine and so forth.

    My (admittedly speculative) fear is that at least one reactor is fractured but in a way that makes the fracture behave like a pressure relief valve. So should internal pressure build up too much = leak.

    I hope my speculation is terribly mistaken.

    Besides, withstanding one earth moving event within parameters is fine but what may be the cumulative effect of several tremors over several years? Material fatigue and all that.

    That said: we really are up to the challenge of working with nuclear technologies.

    1. Andydaws

      I've only been in engineering for 30 years or so

      so, maybe I'm missing something.

      Maybe you could explain how that might work. You know, with reference to real engineered systems, and with pressures around the 0-3 atmospheres (gauge) level.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        Reply to: I've only been in engineering for 30 years or so

        I'll try...

        Rather than a direct fracture maybe a few bits of seepage that ooze stuff out when pressure in the core is high. When pressure is not high the mass of the reactor itself helps to keep the leaky bits sealed sufficiently well as not to be observable.

        Besides, unlike 3MI the structure of these reactors (at least 4 that we know of) would appear to be compromised.

        Perhaps your engineering experience might allow a more insightful explanation to the detection of highly active fluids found in basements around reactors?

        Pray tell

        1. Andydaws

          "Perhaps your engineering experience might allow..."

          Well, let's have a think....three obvious possibilities.

          1 - there's rather a lot of water been poured into spent fuel ponds, where the level indicators are out of action. That'll be likely to have overflowed, and carried material from faulted rods into various places.

          2 - rather a lot of steam was vented, from the primary containment (which is not the same thing as the reator vessel) in to the secondary buildings (this we know, because it's how the hydrogen accumulated there...). That steam will have carried some contaminants, and will be prone to condensing in various parts of the (relatively cool) secondary buildings

          3 - BWRs are "direct cycle" - that is, they take steam straight from reactor to turbine, and condensate back to the reactor. There's always a degree of "let by" even on the highest quality valves, so there's potentially some loss there. Indeed, bleeding out ingressed air from coolant pumps is a standard part of restarting a BWR post-refuelling, and there's usually some loss from such valving. And that valving is usually in the Turbine hall basement - exactly where this activated material has been found.

          Now, compare the probability of any of those with the idea of getting a reactor vessel with 4" thick (or so) walls, to "flex" sufficiently to bleed a bit of water through a crack, then close up again - when the pressure range involved is a heady 3 atmospheres or so - and when the reactor is designed to run at 80 atmospheres.

          Will that do you you?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Paris Hilton

            Yes, of course.

            That is more like it!

            I had assumed that all of the likely culprits had been explored diagrammatically if not in situ.

            But, let's face it, the building is seriously tw**ted (in the Yorkshire sense). Lots of seawater flowing over concrete, temperature gradients with sub-zero ambients, ... my take is that rather than a perfect through crack/fracture fatigue might make for oozing that accumulates and seeps between gaps, hairline fractures making for a porous textures all driven by internal pressures within primary/secondary constructions.

            In short, a direct leak might be super-duper for detecting, isolating and repairing but a fatigue/materials/substrate compromise basically makes for a very insecure containment arrangement on top of what leakage might already be there.

            Besides, what would happen if pipework constructed to handle steam starts to handle seawater and maybe loose lumps of stuff that turns out to be quite active?

            1. Andydaws


              I'd doubt that there's major scale leakage from the building itself - concrete takes a good deal longer than a fortnight to develop cracking from temperature differentials, or from seawater corrosion (I used to work just by the elevated section of the M4, in Brentford. That'd been made with unprotected rebar, with the idea the road wouldn't be salted - which the DoT duly forgot about, of course. Even then, it took 30-odd years to start spalling).

              "Besides, what would happen if pipework constructed to handle steam starts to handle seawater and maybe loose lumps of stuff that turns out to be quite active?"

              Not a great deal, within a fortnight. And steel itself really doesn't activate at all, unless subject to an intense neutron flux, and not that much even then. Even LWR pressure vessels only rate as Intermediate waste, when taken for disposal post commissioning.

  49. calumg

    Really wish Lewis would drop the attitude

    He's right on many points of course, but to crow on about how it didn't go too badly wrong is taking things too far. The bias is too far the other way now, and two wrongs do not make a right. Nuclear power is so safe precisely because of the paranoid, naysayers and nambi-pambies asking the right questions and insisting on safety and regulation.

    In the coming months, the real story will be how the generation industry has been cutting corners. Why don't you do a report on that? Also, why don't you do a report into the economics of long term waste storage of nuclear waste and who should foot the bill. There's also some really interesting new reactor technology - report on that! Alternatively, suppress facts which do not support your world-view, your call.

  50. K. Adams

    OK, Let's Do Some Basic Math...

    OK, according to the Encyclopedia That Everyone Loves (Wikipedia), a human being will absorb, on average, about 2.4mSv (milliSieverts) per year:

    -- --

    -- -- Section: "Natural Background Radiation"

    -- -- -- -- "The worldwide average background dose for a human being is about 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year."

    This means that, on average, that same being will absorb about 274 **nanoSieverts** per hour:

    -- -- 0.0024 Sievert/Yr / 365 Days/Yr = 0.000006575 Sievert/Day = 6.575 microSievers/Day

    -- -- 0.000006575 Sievert/Day / 24 Hours/Day = 0.000000274 Sievert/Hour = 274 nanoSieverts/Hour

    So we multiply 274 nanoSieverts/Hour by 10K, and we get:

    -- -- 0.000000274 Sievert/Hour * 10,000 Normal = 0.00274 Sievert/Hour = 2.74 milliSieverts/Hour

    -- -- 0.00274 Sievert/Hour * 24 Hours/Day = 0.06576 Sievert/Day = 65.76 milliSieverts/Day

    This means that to reach the 0.250 Sievert (250 milliSieverts) threshold, you would need to be exposed for 3.8 straight days in the location where -- according to the scaremongers -- "radiation levels are 10,000 times the normal level":

    -- -- 0.250 Sievert / 0.06576 Sievert/Day = 3.802 Days

    It should be noted that these exposures are for external "on-the-skin" radiation absorption only. The allowable thresholds for inhalation or ingestion of radioactive materials are lower, depending on the biochemical properties of the radioactive material in question.

    One should also keep in mind that presuming the radiation source's location remains static (i.e., we're not counting radiation emitted by particles that are being distributed by fire, wind, steam venting, flowing water, etc.), the intensity of the radiation should decrease with distance according to the inverse-square law.

    The problem is that we don't know exactly where these "10,000 times the normal level" measurements were taken. The world's 24-hour news channels ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H gossipmongers hear "10,000 times the normal level" and blast it over the airwaves, without taking the time to do any basic math first.

    1. Guido Brunetti

      Wrong base

      The 10.000 times factor is not related to the background radiation but to the normal level of water in a running reactor core!

      The total dose taken by these men at the feet-level was 5-6 Sievert! Total dose was less of course, but that's still pretty much and something like a "light sunburn". Not at all.

      1. Pet Peeve

        Not buying it

        5 or 6 Sievert is invariably fatal. Post a reliable source or I'm calling shenanigans.

        1. Mikel

          5-6 Sievert is not invariably fatal

          @Pet Peeve A whole-body exposure of 5 Sievert is LD50 if untreated (half a normal population dies). Death would be expected within 2-3 weeks if it happened. To get that level of exposure in a short period you would pretty much have to be in the room with a criticality accident, about 15 feet away, or bathe in a radioactive solution. Such an exposure limited to the feet indicates likely amputation. If not too much radioactive iodine was absorbed through the skin the patient might only experience nausea and recover - though their career in nuclear power is certainly over and they face a lifelong increased risk of cancer.

          It hasn't been 2-3 weeks yet, and these workers certainly won't be untreated. They'll probably recover with agressive treatment. That doesn't make this a minor glitch. Aggressive treatment is going to involve a bone-marrow transplant.

          Whole-body exposures above 10 Sieverts are invariably death.

          This is probably a good spot to thank the Fukushima Team for their brave work at great personal risk to limit the harm to the outside world. Thank you all.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Reliable source - Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency

          2. Exposure of workers

          As for the workers conducting operations in Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS, the total number of people who were at the level of exposure more than 100mSv becomes 18, as the three workers (All the people were the subcontractor’s employees.) who were laying cables in the turbine building of Unit 3 of the NPS were confirmed to be at the level of exposure more than 170mSv on March 24.

          For two out of the three workers, the attachment of radioactive material on the skin of both legs was confirmed. As the two workers were judged to have a possibility of beta ray burn, they were transferred to the Fukushima Medical University Hospital, and after that, on March 25th, all of the three workers arrived at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture.

          As the result of examination, the level of exposure of their legs was estimated to be from 2 to 6 Sv.

          The level of exposure of both legs and internal did not require medical treatment, but they decided to monitor the progress of all three workers in the hospital.

          Concerning the result of survey for the water that those workers stepped in, the dose rate on the surface of the water was about 400mSv/h and, as a result of gamma ray nuclide analysis of sampled water, the concentration of radioactive nuclide of the sample was about 3.9×106 Bq/cm3 in total of each nuclides.

          1. Phil Koenig

            So much for the votes

            I was a bit worried that my previous post got 4 thumbs-down, but this post, which is nothing but a quote from the Japanese safety agency, gets 0 up and 2 down?

            Methinks the nuclear power industry is shilling the votes.

            Thanks for the informative post.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        "The total dose taken by these men at the feet-level was 5-6 Sievert!"

        Sounds like a case for amputation to me.

        I still would like to know where that number is coming from though. The NYT?

        1. Guido Brunetti


          OK, let's do the math.

          Here is the measurements of radiation in the water sample taken, according to Tepco:

          The dominant radiation comes from Ce144 with 2.2 million decays per second per cm³. This emits a (rather weak) electron (beta decay) on its way to Pr144. That element has a half life in the seconds range and thus goes almost immediately into another beta decay to Nd144, this time with a very strong output (~ 3 MeV), which gives it a high penetration range (> 1 cm in water/tissue, up to 15m in air).

          Organ exposures and effective exposures are both measured in Sievert. As I said, the total dose

          was significantly less, "more than 170 mSv", according to Tepco, but since most of that dose occured at the feet through direct contact with the contaminated water, it creates an organ equivalent dose well in the single digit Sievert range. These workers may or may not get radiation sickness, but their cancer risk is already orders of magnitude raised.

          BTW: The existence of relatively large amounts of Ce144 in the water confirms a significant core meltdown. One cm³ (!) of that water can contaminate a thousand litres of ground water with over 22.000 Bq/kg, which is way over any safety limit. And with a half-life of 284 days that problem will stay for a while.

          1. Chris Miller

            @Guido: "their cancer risk is already orders of magnitude raised"

            Given that the lifetime cancer risk for a normal, healthy human is ~25%, please explain how it can be increased by two orders of magnitude.

            1. Andydaws


              they'll die several times over...

          2. Andydaws

            I think you've misread the powers of ten

            Iodine 131 - 1.2 x 10^6

            Caesium 134 - 1.8 x 10^5

            Caesium 137 - 1.8 x 10^ 5

            Cerium 144 - 2.2 x 10^5

            Ignoring the others (they're all an order of magnitude lower) gives Ce 144 contributing about 12%. Iodine 131 contributes 67%.

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          NYT fail: The IAEA still can't find an integer Sv value.

          Updates of 26 March 2011:

          "We understand that a total of 17 TEPCO workers and contractors have received doses between 100 and 180 millisievert. TEPCO measured the dose rate of 400 millisievert per hour above the surface of the water in the Unit 3 turbine building where 2 workers had been contaminated."

          There is leeway in that statement for hiding a couple of workers having been hit with 5 Sv, but still...

      3. K. Adams

        @Guido Brunetti: Wrong base? Maybe, but who knows for sure?

        Well, the news reports that I have read have neglected to say anything even close to "10,000 times the normal level for X" where "X" is the qualifying phrase (i.e., "water in the cooling loop", "spilled water within the containment building", etc.).

        They just say "10,000 times normal" and stop there.

        As for the workers hospitalised by stepping into a pool/basin of radioactive water, I can grant that the level of radioactivity of the water in that pool may have been very high; enough to cause some radiation sickness, in fact.

        However, I have not read any news report to this point that defines what "normal" is, so one must presume "normal" equates to "natural background radiation".

        In my mind, "normal" most certainly does NOT equate with "contaminated water lying about a damaged nuclear reactor containment building".

        So, even if the "normal" background radiation in the immediate vicinity of the plant (when undamaged) is twice the average found elsewhere on Earth, a person would still need to be exposed for almost 2 straight days to reach the 0.250 Sievert threshold, if radiation at that particular location was at a level 10,000 times "normal".

      4. Andydaws

        It's hard to make a call on the significance of the doses recieved.

        Sievert-range doses aren't good news for anyone, but it's hard to honestly make a call on this.

        Where there's a discussion of mortality levels with multi-Sv doses, that's on a "whole body" basis, which can compormise the more sensitive organs.

        However, doses in the tens of Sievert ranges, albeit spread over several treatment sessions are routine in medial radiotherapy. The usual limit is a total 20Sv for exposure to healthy tissue in the area of tumours undergoing radiation therapy, with the maximum allowed in normal practice at 1.5Sv/day. .

    2. Andydaws

      yes we do.

      "The problem is that we don't know exactly where these "10,000 times the normal level" measurements were taken"

      yes, we do - in a pool in the reactor basement.

  51. DN4

    Health consequences

    Unfortunately, widespread health problems are already unavoidable whether anyone receives any measurable radiation dose or not. Auto-suggestion can cause them equally well as actual radiation.

    1. Andydaws

      Well, most radiotherapy subjects seem fine...

      And FWIW, the three contaminated workers have been released from hospital. They'll continue to be monitored, but aren't under treatment.

  52. veskebjorn

    A little science might be a useful corrective here

    1.) The burns suffered by the three workers have been ascribed to beta radiation. Radioactivity comes in three forms: alpha, which is essentially helium nuclei and has a hard time penetrating paper; beta, which is high-energy electrons and is much more dangerous; and gamma, which is the most energetic electromagnetic radiation, and requires lots of shielding to be dangerous.

    Point is, the burns were in fact caused by nuclear radiation.

    2.) No scientist claims to know exactly what the consequences are of almost any sort of exposure to almost any sort of radiation. The reason for this ignorance is that ethics prohibit using humans as test subjects. The only four large-scale experiments--Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island--are inclusive, except that it is scientifically clear that all man-made radiation adds risk. All the rest of this talk about milli-sieverts is little more than ignorant arm waving.

    3.) The earthquake in Japan occurred at about 7 a.m., London time, on March 11. It is now 14 days later, and increasing quantities of the iodine 131 isotope are being detected in groundwater. The significance of this development lies in the facts that the half-life of this iodine is only 8 days, and the iodine is only produced by fission. The most reasonable conjecture is that fission is still occurring in one or more "shut down" reactors and finding its way out of the containment vessel(s) and into the groundwater. As iodine 131 is a weak beta emitter, the beta radiation that burned the workers suggests there's a heck of a lot of it inside the reactor buildings.

    1. Andydaws

      " The most reasonable conjecture is..."

      No, the reasonable conlusion is that iodine produced earlier is being either vented (with steam), or more likely (in the case of the seawater samples) had been washed down by the various spraying activiites is finding it's way via the rainwater drain system (which isn't treated as active) at the plant.

      I suspect you've not much background in matters nuclear, but there'd be a lot of clues were there ongoing criticality - heat production a couple of orders of magnitude than that observed anywhere, intense neutron fluxes and so on. Not easy to miss.

      1. veskebjorn
        Thumb Down

        "Not easy to miss"

        1.) Iodine 131 is being detected now in ground water as far away as Tokyo (approx. 130 miles or 205 km). Levels of this isotope have increased in the ground water near the damaged Fukashima plant. This isotope is produced by nuclear fission; it is not the decay product of some other isotope (in the context of Fukashima). The half-life of this isotope is almost exactly 8 days, which implies (among other things) either that an extraordinary amount of iodine 131 was produced early on and not detected or that some continuing process is at work. The only credible process for producing iodine 131 in the context of Fukashima is nuclear fission.

        The assertion that the iodine 131 was "produced earlier" has implications that do not seem to be supported by the facts. Since 131 is produced only by active fission, it then follows that all of the 131 had been produced by fission BEFORE the Fukashima Daaichi reactors were shut down. If one can give credence to the claims of the operator, this shut down occurred on March 11. The assertion that 131 was "produced earlier" implies that the increasing levels of 131 in the groundwater--when simple physics says a short-lived isotope concentration should be decreasing rapidly--result from some hitherto unknown mechanism whereby a radioactive isotope can elude the most careful testing, be stored in some unknown location, and make its way into the groundwater by some unknown route.

        The amount of 131 in the atmospheric emissions of Daaichi has been and is being measured and is less than the amount of 131 in the groundwater. It could be that "the various spraying activities" [to try to cool reactor cores and irradiated fuel rod pools] are picking up 131 and dumping it into groundwater--but the isotope being picked up is highly likely to be the result of some continuing nuclear fission somewhere. Absent continuing fission, the groundwater should be showing a decrease in 131 levels, such that every day the amount of iodine 131 decreased by 12 percent. Painstaking and continuing tests do not show this decrease.

        2.) With respect to Mr. Daws' "intense neutron fluxes," he appears to be ill-informed. The English-language edition of the Kyodo News (along with hundreds of other sources) said on March 25: "Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster." Extraordinary thermal excursions have occurred on dozens (scores?) of occasions

        As Mr. Daws says, "not easy to miss," unless you don't want to see it;.

        1. Andydaws

          Oh, dear....

          Except, of course, that we know that there's been steam venting in the earlier days post -tsunami - that's how surplus heat is removed from a BWR core. We also know, (from the general levels of radiation around the plant) that that was contaminated with i131.

          Now, Iodine is fairly volatile, i.e. it's gaseous at even relatively low temperatures. It even sublimes, once condensed. Didn't you ever do those experiments at school?

          Which means it tends to get blown around. And which means that there's been plenty to condense, and find it's way into things like the rainwater drains on the plant (or further aflield). And, of course, it's decaying all the time.

          Local concentrations mean little, in a case like this.

          As to neutron fluxes, the numbers tell the tale. As reported by the BBC's Richard Black:

          "Perhaps the most tantalising is a report by Kyodo News, Japan's principal news agency, to the effect that neutron radiation was observed more than a kilometre from reactor buildings 1 and 2....

          ...The neutron flux outlined by Kyodo - 0.02 microsieverts per hour - is within levels that are observed naturally in some locations - which raises the question of why it became an issue in conversations between reporters and Tepco representatives in Tokyo."

          So, neutron emissions at a range that're routinely observed naturally. An issue that seems to have arisen because TEPCO are publishing exhaustive listings of observations from their monitoring sites, get's blown up into a conspiracy theory about ongoing criticality. And it get's picked up by f**kwits who've never previously bothered to learn anything in this area.

          I'll point out one thing, btw. At a kilometre from an operating reactor, you'd not detect an observable neutron flus, even at full power.

      2. Mikel

        The bar is ongoing criticality now?

        A criticality accident rarely occupies more than a few seconds.

        Some background, and this is going to be a vast oversimplification:

        Almost all atoms split, but generally heavier atoms split faster. We don't know if any one atom will survive forever or not, but the average time it will take an atom to split is called its half-life. When a heavy atom splits, it gives up heat and becomes two or more atoms - usually losing some neutrons and electrons along the way. This is fission. The freed electrons become photons, which are heat and light. In atomic science the neutron is the heavy beast, containing far more mass than protons and vastly more than the third element of this trinity, electrons.

        Free Neutrons are the bowling ball of nuclear physics. If they happen to strike a heavy atom that's already teetering on the edge of splitting, it will split too, releasing more electrons and neutrons. This is called reaction, and the devices constructed to use this are called reactors. If it's freed in an area that's densely populated with heavy atoms like a nuclear fuel rod, this is more likely to occur. If you measure this scale on the number of neutrons freed for each free neutron, it's a scale that goes from zero to over ten. But there are some interesting nuclear effects as the number approaches one. At room temperature and one atmosphere of pressure though, even U235 is mostly vacuum and many freed neutrons can get away without amplifying the reaction.

        Masses where the average freed neutron will not collide with an atom and release more neutrons than you started with are "subcritical". Eventually their reactions will peter out. At exactly one on this scale, for every released neutron there is exactly one additional released neutron. This is called "critical" because at this point the reaction is self-sustaining until it runs out of big atoms. Since this happens at an atomic level, the reactions are very fast. Remember that in addition to the neutrons, they're also producing huge numbers of freed electrons, or heat. This is what make nuclear power work.

        Now, if power nuclear reactors required criticality they would be much more dangerous things than they are. By carefully spacing the masses of the heavy atoms and adding other elements that slow the reaction called moderators, the reactor can do its business of generating heat by approaching, but not quite reaching, criticality, and the timescales can be reduced to something that humans can deal with.

        If, however, the fuel melts and goes out of the operator's control then it can of course reach this critical mass as molten bits of fuel fuse to become the critical mass. The natural result is that the mass will get so hot that it will expand until the heavy atoms are so sparse that the reactivity falls again below one. This is called a criticality accident. When it happens the nuclear material typically becomes so hot that it expands until it's no longer critical. If in the process it becomes very hot it fuses with whatever mass is available and becomes diluted and is a new composition. This substance is called "corium".

        By measuring the specific types of radiation released the Japanese government has announced that at least 13 criticality accidents have occurred on this site since the Tsunami. If somebody's trying to tell you this isn't a big deal, they're lying. Criticality accidents are as big a deal as they get in civilian nuclear power.

        So why no boom?: There are elements like carbon, iron, boron and silicon that can absorb neutrons without splitting. They are reaction "poison". So containments are made of steel. Nuclear reactors are designed such that the corium if it occurs will alloy with these substances and damp the reaction. Also, the heat produced causes the radioactive materials to expand until they are not critical any more. Nuclear weapons lack these dampeners, and in addition are not only surrounded be reaction amplifiers (elements that give up more than one neutron per collision) but are surrouded by explosives that compress the reaction materials much closer together faster than they can expand through heat to trigger the explosion known as "supercriticality". This can't occur in nature.

        So ongoing criticality? No. There is no such thing in an uncontrolled nuclear reaction. It can't happen. But does that make this event less serious? No.

        1. Andydaws

          I started off that post vaguely optimistic

          And despair set in about 1/3rd of the way through...

          "This is called reaction" No, it's called fission.....

          "Now, if power nuclear reactors required criticality" assured, they do indeed require criticality. A decent power reactor probably has the potential to get up to a criticality ratio of about 1.02 to 1.05 (i.e. for every neutron in one "generation", 1.02 to 1.05 will be produced in the next). THat's how reactors area able to ramp up to a given power level, of course. At normal operation, a reactor is just critical.

          "By carefully spacing the masses of the heavy atoms and adding other elements that slow the reaction called moderators,"

          No, moderators don't "slow the reaction". In power reactors, they make it possible. Atoms have differing propensity to absorb neutrons dependent on the energy - literally, spped - of the neutrons. Uranium (and plutonium) are a couple of orders of magnitiude more likely to absorb a neutron travelling at about 2200 m/s (the so-called "thermal" range) than they are one travelling at thousands of metres/second - the "fast" range. That's why "thermal" reactors - ones that have moderators, like graphite or water - can work at levels of enrichment much lower than "fast" reactors. Some thermal reactors can run with natural uranium, at just 0.7% of U235. LWRs like those at Fukushima (BWRs are one of the two types of LWR) need about 3% enrichment. A fast plant needs around 40% enrichment.

          "If, however, the fuel melts and goes out of the operator's control then it can of course reach this critical mass as molten bits of fuel fuse to become the critical mass"

          Well, no. Because you couldn't get fast criticality in thermal reactor fuel even if you tried. And since melted fuel can't contain water (there's a small temperature issue...), it can't embed moderator in anything like sufficient proportions for thermal criticality.

          You're confusing decay heat, from things like beta decay of fission products, with ongoing fission.

          "By measuring the specific types of radiation released the Japanese government has announced that at least 13 criticality accidents have occurred on this site since the Tsunami. "

          No - Tepco announced that it'd pobserved neutrons being emitted on 13 occasions, through it's monitoring sites throughout the exclusion zone. In no case did that amount to a flux in the order of more than 1/10th of a microsievert - all within natural levels.

          "There are elements like carbon, iron, boron and silicon that can absorb neutrons without splitting."

          Carbon can absorb neutrons? That's news to me - it's odd, then, that I spent a couple of years building a couple of thousand tonnes of it into the core of Heysham II and torness - to act as moderator. And, unsurprisingly, one of the things you look for in a good moderator is very limited absorbtion of neutrons. You want it to bounce the neutrons off, and absord kinetic energy, to slow them (once again) to the thermal range.

          "So containments are made of steel."

          No, reactor vessels are made of steel because it's strong, and if you pick the right allow, it doesn't embrittle. And containments are more usually made of prestressed concrete than steel - BWRs are unusual in using steel. And back again to Heysham and Torness - the pressure vessel wasn't steel, other than a thin lining. There, the pressure vessel itself is prestressed concrete.

          "Nuclear weapons lack these dampeners, and in addition are not only surrounded be reaction amplifiers (elements that give up more than one neutron per collision"

          Those are "reflectors", not "amplifiers. And go look at a schematic of a BWR internals, particularly one of the later models. You'll see a large steel sleeve surrounding the core (open at top and bottom). That has two purposes - it helps manage the water flow, and acts as a neutron reflector, improving neutron economy in the core.

    2. Will 30

      Not so...

      Umpteen people are exposed to high levels of radiation as part of cancer treatment, and lower levels for medical imaging. It's just not true to say that, in general, there's little known about the effects of exposure.

      The few significant leaks of fission products that have occurred have been studied to hell and back. Of course, medical science is a young, imprecise profession with a much shallower understanding of its domain than we'd all like, but that applies across the board, not just to radiation.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Half-life, we don' need no steenkin' half-life

      "3.) The earthquake in Japan occurred at about 7 a.m., London time, on March 11. It is now 14 days later, and increasing quantities of the iodine 131 isotope are being detected in groundwater. The significance of this development lies in the facts that the half-life of this iodine is only 8 days, and the iodine is only produced by fission."

      Iodine 131 has a half-life of 8 days. Correct.

      There's is still some iodine 131 around after 14 days. Correct

      Your conclusion: It's still being produced.

      My conclusion: Half-live means half of it will be degraded in 8 days. After another 8 days, half of the remainder will be degraded too. After another 8 days, half of that will be degraded.

      The clue is in the "half" part of half-life.

      Getting back to the levels of radiation,it's worth bearing mind that many people in the the world, even in the UK, are living and working with far higher natural background radiation levels than the world average. Not sure if it's as much as "10,000 times" though

      That map might explain a few things about the Welsh and Cornish folk :-)

  53. [Insert Title Here]

    Go, Lewis!

    Me personally, I'm fecking amazed at all the nuclear doom-sayers. Can ye not all feck away off and join ranks with the flat-earthers and these who thought PARIS would burn up a-la-Icarus if she got too close to the sun? (You might need to rent a a mobile home to meet in...) Or perhaps, get a little education and develop the power of critical thought and analysis? It's not like we're asking you to develop the power to kill yaks, form 30 yards, with mind-bullets.

    Lewis, PM me your paypal addy and I'll actually transfer you some beer-funds, not just wish you some (You OK with Euros? Can do Sterling...). I personally would need a beer after reading a week or so of the bullshit comments on here. Mind you, kudos to all the folks here who don't subscribe to the FUD. I'd like to be able to buy you all a tasty beverage or three as well, you're equally deserving.

    I read the [shock! horror!] 'news' today courtesy of a number of 'news' outlets that a couple of sparks got irradiated. Whoopee-doo. Apparently they decided their dosimeters were malfunctioning and thus disregarded the warning (Darwin, come on down....). Coupled with that they had 'inadequately secured footwear' (WTF? sandals?) so standing in a puddle of contaminated water did get them a minor dose. Their skin is not peeling off. They don't even have a rash, apparently. A triumph for stupidity rather than for the nuclear doom-sayers?

    I really hope Lewis's articles serve a dual purpose for the good of mankind. A) Dispel FUD. B) So the delectable Ms Bee (we're not worthy, etc....) can compile a list of utter fucktards and ban them forever from this august forum so the rest of us can have a critical and reasoned debate, based on facts.

    I personally want a nuclear reactor right behind my house. Why? Main reason, I wouldn't have a NIMBY panic-merchant-daily-mail-reading-fuckwit living withing 30 miles of me, if they practice what they preach. Plus, cheap, clean, safe power...

    Keep her lit, Lewis. Intelligent minds care.... Beer because, by the Great Sky Fairy, you deserve a lot for putting up with the uninformed flak....

  54. Anonymous Coward


    The radioactive fallout is completely unpredicable in where and what dosage of radiation it will give you, the 3 workers who fell into this trap walked from a low dose area into a high one without knowing. One of the critical problems is that alpha radiation only penetrates 6cm through air, so hand held detectors and badges at chest hight will not pick up radiation from the ground level. Very little xray and gamma radiation producing isotopes have been released to mark out fallout deposits with the current lab equipment.

    Relying on the fact of radioactive decay of 6 hours for Iodine and 20 days for Caesium ignores the fact it will be continuously building up in the environment faster than it decays. Only rainfall and wind direction has saved this area from greater damage. But again dosage and deposits are cumulative, the worst of it however has been around the plant, but this area like Chernobyl will be abandoned, regardless of what Mr Page tries to rant on about the reality is totally different There is a huge amount of fuel sintering away in those broken reactors, 170 tonnes in each.

    In some ways this is worse than Chernobyl, the local area is receiving more Caesium and Iodine in 4 days than was released in at Chernobyl in 10 and unlike in Russia which was in denial, the problem here is that millions who need to be evacuated have no place to go.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I don't know why globalresearch should be taken seriously.

      They have weirdo things like affirmations that the polar ice caps are increasing and that the Lybian revolt has been fomented by the West to grab some oil. It's worser than El Reg.

    2. David Ward 1

      oh where to start with the fail in this comment!

      "One of the critical problems is that alpha radiation only penetrates 6cm through air, so hand held detectors and badges at chest hight will not pick up radiation from the ground level." - its also stopped by skin, or even paper, they may be in trouble if they were drinking it, however I guess you are in fact speculating that it is alpha radiation and that they are in more trouble because it is in fact beta and they decided to ignore their dosimeters.

      "Relying on the fact of radioactive decay of 6 hours for Iodine and 20 days for Caesium ignores the fact it will be continuously building up in the environment faster than it decays." ehm do you mean a half-life of 8 days for iodine by any chance? and if so it means wherever it is it will be half of the mass it is now in 8 days, which means it is NOT building up!

    3. Steve X

      Without knowing?

      So you missed the bit in the official report where it said they'd ignored the warnings from their dosimeters, which they assumed to be faulty? They knew, seems that they either were too daft to react, or (more likely in my view) none wanted to be the first one to run. Which is also daft.

  55. Anonymous Coward


    For my next post about the only thing to fear is fear itself, pro nuke lobby its all safe to live in my Radioactive rose garden Mr Page wishes to act as guinea pig and go to the plant, eat the radioactive vegetables; walk under the Fallout cloud, and drink the rain water around Fukushima be our guest in fact please go and take your children and experience first hand what my Aunt went through in 1957 after drinking contaminated milk from Windscale.

    Radiation sickness is the least of the problems exposure to radiation causes, cateracts, lymphonia, infertility, bowel and bladder cancer, brain tumors, melonomas are all common to those who were harmed during Windscale. Radiation gives a shortened, blighted lifespan, only the fact we have such good medical care mitigates this (NHS). If you wish to compare what is the real death and disease rate caused by radiation, go to Mururoa or the outback of Australia where the Natives were left to die from fallout without medical care.

    Do you remember the Curies, the first people to discover radon - Xrays, were also the fist Nobel prize winners to both have radiation poisoning, Marie Curie died from it -decades after exposure. Of course there is no absolute proof that radiation causes death or cancer, but there is also no proof of a real safe limit either - only one cell in a body has to mutate to cause a Tumour.

    Anyone who wishes to prove the nuclear case that it is safe to be around a melting nuclear reactor please book a ticket to Fukushima and become a Guinea pig, either proving your case or helping human evolution by reducing the number of idiots in the population.

    1. Chris Miller
      Thumb Down


      Look L1ma, we're all very sorry about your aunt, but I'd like to reassure our foreign readers that the northwest of England hasn't been subject to a mass outbreak of radiation poisoning. (I was five at the time of the Windscale fire and lived less than 80 miles SW of the site.. 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.</irony>)

      To be sure, exposure to massive levels of radiation (several Sv) can cause immediate illness and levels 1/10 of that *may* increase the risk of cancer by a few percent - but no-one who wasn't working at the plant got within several orders of magnitude of those doses as a result of the Sellafield/Windscale fire.

      The Curies exposed themselves to massive radiation doses in (completely understandable) ignorance of the health consequences. One of Mme Curie's notebooks is on display in Paris - it has to be kept behind lead glass, because it's too radioactive to meet modern safety standards for public exposure. It's true that: "only one cell in a body has to mutate to cause a Tumour", but you do realise that millions of such mutations are occurring in your body every day? The body has very effective methods for catching almost all of them, and preventing them from developing into cancer.

      1. Andydaws

        Chris Miller

        "(I was five at the time of the Windscale fire and lived less than 80 miles SW of the site.. "

        I was born four years later, and lived even closer......

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ain't propaganda wonderful

      > only one cell in a body has to mutate to cause a Tumour.

      True enough. Of course cells mutate every day from causes that are unrelated to radiation. Almost all get repaired or dealt with by the body's own systems. Most of those that don't will never lead to cancer anyway. Note also that one of the largest sources of radiation-induced cell damage is the sun, but I'd be pretty pissed off if anyone suggested switching that off.

      I'm probably more at risk of reproductive cell damage from the laptop sitting on my lap a few cm from my balls than I am from Fukushima. For that matter I'm way closer to Chernobyl than I am to Japan.

      Still, don't let the facts get in the way of paranoia.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Remember the Curies

        "Do you remember the Curies, the first people to discover radon - Xrays, were also the fist Nobel prize winners to both have radiation poisoning, Marie Curie died from it -decades after exposure."

        And her husband Pierre was run over by a horse cart - further proof that radiation KILLS!

        Jokes aside, the Curies ground and sifted through tons of uranium ore by hand, without any protection. Marie was surrounded by highly active sources in her laboratory material for the rest of her life.

        Yes, Marie Curie died from radiation-induced bone marrow damage, but she was 66 when she died, which would very likely be above the average life expectancy of white females at that time.

  56. Guido Brunetti

    This is what you call "under control"?!

    Mine is the lead lined coat, btw.

  57. Jon Green

    Jog the bloody needle...PLEASE!

    I think you've done all you need to to troll the anti-nuclear contingent, Lewis. It's time to stand down and stop repeating yourself, because you're no longer adding any useful content.

  58. James Gibbons

    Someone is talking bullshite here!

    Mr. Page: "Their personal dosimetry equipment later showed that they had sustained radiation doses up to 170 millisievert."

    IEEE Spectrum article: "The three TEPCO subcontractors were laying electrical cables in the basement of the turbine room behind the No. 3 reactor building when they stepped into water contaminated with radiation, and received doses of between 173 and 180 millisieverts."

    New York Times: "It said that the amount of radiation the workers are thought to have been exposed to in the water was 2 to 6 sievert."

    How could the NYT get it so wrong? If it was that high it is very serious. Beta burns are not similar to sun burns. Beta radiation goes much deeper into the tissue and can cause more damage, but the exact nature of damage depends on the type of emitter and we don't know the details yet.

    I'm willing to bet that the initial 170 mSv was based on their wearable detectors which were higher on the body and not near the water. The direct dose on their skin could be much higher by the factor reported in the NYT.

    My opinion is the manager who sent them into this area with boots that were too short should be fired. TEPCO's handling of this situation has been very poor from the start.

    Perhaps Mr. Lewis Page will finally have been shown to be a fool with this statement.

    1. Justin Forder

      IAEA reports the 2 to 6 sievert local exposure estimate

      in the update for 27 March 2011, 03:00 UTC:

      "For two of the three workers, significant skin contamination over their legs was confirmed. The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers' legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts.

      While the patients did not require medical treatment, doctors decided to keep them in hospital and monitor their progress over coming days."

      Note that this is local exposure, not whole body exposure.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iaea source


      > the level of local exposure to the workers legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts.

      Please note that the iaea is obviously very pro atomic industry and having them publish such numbers is double memorable.

      Mr Page everyday tells us that the situation is perfectly under control, but every following day he gets proven to be wrong.

      PS: currently hear in official jap. gvt news that all workers have been removed from the plant again due to heavily exceeding radiation...

      Of course there was no nuclear explosion and the containments are still partly ok. But the existence of heavy radiation is a proof that a few of the containments are at least partly broken.

      If all works well, it will take a minimum of 3 months in total to really shut down all blocks.

      It could be worse, but lots of the surrounding square kms are not a picnic zone anymore, and wil not be for a long time. Take alone the real estate prices, the damage exceeds billions of $.

    3. Abremms

      re: bullshite

      I think we can be reasonably sure that the NYT numbers are exagerated. even if it was on the low end of 2sv, the workers would be in far FAR worse shape than burned leg and a 4day stint in the hospital for observation. they would be treated for severe radiation sickness and possibly die.

      if they took 6sv, they would already be dead.

  59. teslar_lu

    If you keep going on about facts, you gotta get them straight...

    The limit for radition workers is 50 milliSievert, not 500. A YEARLY dose of 100 milliSievert is linked to increased cancer risks, the effect is stronger if the radition is absorbed in a shorter time frame. So yeah, these workers are probably screwed. for a little chart.

    1. Abremms


      that chart is brilliant, but you have to remember, the workers aren't being exposed constantly, they work in shifts and avoid areas with higher radiation whenever possible. also, the 50msv is for non-emergency normal day to day operations. for lifesaving emergencies, the limit is 250msv, and when its downgraded to just saving the equipment it will be 100msv.

      100msv is the smallest amount of radiation linked to an increased risk of cancer, but its the smallest measurable increase to an already sizable risk. I doubt the workers are "screwed" since thier radiation intake is monitored and they are pulled when they hit 250msv, which none of them have so far. only 4 (?) have gone over 100msv.

  60. steve 124



    This article is as shameful as the complete blackout of real news about the reactor problems for the last week by mainstream media. They were downplaying the problem when there were 4 FOUR! reactors in danger of cascade failure and that was less than a week ago. Even if only one of those reactors leaks out cesium 139 in large amounts it will be disastrous to the world (not just Japan). The media were thanking God for the radiation blowing out to sea last week, but are you going to eat any pacific cod caught after last week? Take a look at some of the fish products in your kitchen (Starkist tuna for instance) and you'll get a quick idea of how much is caught in Asian countries fishing the pacific ocean and then shipped world-wide. The ocean feeds Asia and if they can't get that food where will it come from? Nay, I say this is still a very worrisome event and the fact that the catastrophe is happening in slow-motion doesn't make it any less deadly. I can't blame the Japanese government for blacking out the news (I mean, where are they going to evacuate the entire country's population?) but you really should look at the current maps of contamination from Chernobyl and see what kind of area one controlled meltdown can affect (after 30 years) before you start blowing your horn and declaring "mission accomplished" to the internet.

    I pray that this event does not continue to develop, but nuclear fuel is not a burning piece of coal that can be snuffed out... it lingers and burns for a very long time.

    1. [Insert Title Here]

      Pacific Cod? Yum

      @Steve 124.

      Yo, troll! If you don't bugger off back under the Misinformed Bridge, I'm gonna steal your spot.

      I quote you..."The media were thanking God for the radiation blowing out to sea last week, but are you going to eat any pacific cod caught after last week?"

      I suspect, like me and other informed minds, Lewis would chow down happily. Sorry about the Wikipedia reference, but it's actually factually correct.

      I'll quote the salient bit for you about Pacific Cod... "A bottom dweller, it is found mainly along the continental shelf and upper slopes with a range around the rim of the North Pacific Ocean, from the Yellow Sea to the Bering Strait, along the Aleutian Islands, and south to about Los Angeles, down to the depths of 900 meters."

      Wise up, muppet.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I would hazard a guess...

      That fish will be far worse shape from the chemicals that have been washed off the heavily populated coastline by the tsunami than by the cesium.

      Hell, there whole reactors and open, bleeding nukes already in the Pacific. No-one actually cares.

      Penguin icon because in the end he's gonna get it in his fatty layer.

  61. Highlander

    Hmmm... let's see now....

    Can we sum this up easily yet?

    OK, here goes. 9.0 Earthquake hit's Japan. 12 meter Tsunami hit's north eastern cost of Honshu, more than 50 aftershocks of Magnitude 6 or greater. 3 aftershocks of magnitude 7 or greater.

    A nuclear power plant designed to withstand an earthquake two orders of magnitude smaller and a Tsumani approximately half the size of the monster that hit - surprisingly, survives intact. Local infrastructure is destroyed, reactors scram with the initial earthquake and emergency cooling begins. The damage caused by the Tsunami takes away external power and onsite emergency backup generators leaving the operators with nothing but batteries. Cooling continues until the batteries die.

    The rectors have scram'd so they are shutdown, but they must be physically cooled to cool down from their active state and to remove the excess head from the decay heat that is emitted while the fission products produced inside the reactor decay. This is mostly radio-iodine.

    World wakes up to apocalyptic scenes of destruction from Japan. Tsunami sweep entire towns away and take 1,000s and 1,000s of lives. An oil refinery fire makes for spectacular news footage. The Japanese people respond incredibly and begin picking up the pieces with calm dignity that should shame us all because we know that if this were our country, it would not be so. It's not exciting enough for the world's media, because pictures of people calmly recovering are not very sexy.

    Fukushima is still without power, and the batteries have run out. The operators are desperate to do something, they are in a station blackout with no external support. They rig sea water supplies to inject water into the reactor cores of the reactors that scram'd to keep cooling them while they go through the decay heat phase of the shutdown. The high pressure injectors are unusable, and the emergency improvisation that they use cannot inject water at a high enough pressure to overcome the pressure inside the reactor and steam has to be released.

    Meanwhile the media has discovered a new chew toy - Fukushima Daiichi. Ignoring the fact that the station scram'd as it should, neglecting to mention the 9.0 earthquake and 10 meter Tsunami damage at the site, the world's press then indulges in one of the most disgusting feeding frenzies I've ever seen. Blowing ever tiny development way, way out of proportion. Delayed reporting of events as if they were mew, when in fact they are already resolved and outright lying ensue.

    But the simple fact is that the reactors are cooling down, they are not runaway reactors, and can't become runaway reactors. They require cooling and monitoring. Without external power and the normal equipment both of these aims are difficult. Time passes, steam venting leads to hydrogen build up and explosions, which look incredible on TV but are no threat to the reactors themselves. Cooling continues. In the absence of the China syndrome that the media's 'experts' predicted at the start of this, the press turns it's attention to the spent fuel ponds, because they might catch fire and become a new Chernobyl....and then they don't. They Japanese manage to control that too.

    Time passes, water drops from Helicopters look spectacular and tell the world that Japan is doing something. The fact that the most important operations going on are the restoration of external power and water spraying to top up the (not dry) spent fuel ponds is lost on the press who ignore the fact that if these are the most important things, that means the reactors are under some semblance of control. More time passes, the Japanese engineers and authorities continue working hard to restore external power and keep the cooling water supplied. progress is made to reconnect some pumping equipment and it becomes clear that there won't in fact be a fire in a spent fuel pond.

    Ah, wait, here comes the inevitable news that some radioactive iodine and cesium have been found in the surrounding areas - not a surprise since both elements are found in the steam vented to allow cooling sea water to be injected. However, the world's press once again trips over itself to scream the headlines about nuclear contamination. Never mind that it's trace amounts except for at the Fukushima facilitiy. Then there is a radio-iodine detection in Tokyo city water, a new media orgasm occurs as the world's media batters on about babies drinking contaminated waste.

    Along with all of this there is a constant air of catastrophism and panic being driven by the media's reporting, a constant undertone of mis-trust in the TEPCO and government officials.Even in Japan, people begin to believe the international media because it's easier to believe that the BBC and CNN are right especially when you can't trust TEPCO or your own media/government. But wait, what is it that the government has done wrong here? They have been forthcoming with information as they have it. TEPCO too has been forthcoming, all you have to do is read the reports at the appropriate sites, or look at the IAEA's site. Quite apart from that though, there is no local infrastructure, no onsite external power and as a result most of the instrumentation at the plant is useless, so what is it that the officials in Japan are supposed to tell us? Right from the first of this disaster, people wanted up to the minute precise information that simply wasn't available. The lack of this information was taken as a sign of a coverup instead of a natural consequence of shattered infrastructure.

    And the mis-reporting by the mass media continues. I read the headlines about a loss of containment at reactor 3 today, and struggled to find anything but speculation until I read about the 3 workers exposed to radioactive water while working. Not quite the same thing, but the media likes to jump to conclusions while forgetting things that have already been reported - like the possible loss of pressure in the pressure suppression ring of reactor 3's containment system reported something like a week ago.

    I actually think it's incredibly sad how many people seem to have emotionally invested in Fukushima being the most terrible disaster ever, and subsequently get offensive and angry when the facts destroy their scenario. That's true of mainstream media and many commentards alike.

    The mass media and many people in general, should be ashamed of themselves. Hyperbole is no substitute for thought people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Looked at another way...

      Day after day we hear, alternately - "hoping to regain control" and "increasingly pessimistic".

      Lies have quite obviously been told on an industrial scale.

      "Reactors 5 & 6 are OK" and then "workers had to break holes in the roofs of 5 & 6 to prevent hydrogen build ups leading to explosions" (cus that's just perfectly normal behaviour for a nuclear reactor isn't it?).

      It looks like they may have pumped contaminated water into the sea.

      At least one core is possibly breached.

      No one's been inside the buildings yet to see with eyeballs what's actually there, leading to great deal of supposition, on both sides of the subsequent argument.

      Even if the worst case scenario had happened do you honestly think the information would be made public? What purpose would it serve to have millions in panic?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Old 70's scare stuff is old and has to updated for the 21st century.

        "Even if the worst case scenario had happened do you honestly think the information would be made public? What purpose would it serve to have millions in panic?"

        So .... currently there are not millions in panic fearing a coverup? It would actually be feasible to cover up a "worst case scenario" when you can buy a very good dosimeter for around USD 200 and upload data to Google Maps? Really now.

        This story is stunned, it's pining for the Fjords.

      2. Highlander

        @AC Looked at another way...

        Reactors 5&6 are in cold shutdown. The holes being drilled are precautionary to prevent any hudrogen build up since the normal equipment for scrubbing steam and exhaust gasses, and cooling the reactor systems are off line. I'd call that a sensible precaution.

        Actually there are technically two possible core breeches since any fault in the pressure suppression ring is considered a core breech in the rather careful nuclear industry, despite the fact that it's not a breech of the reactor vessel itself.

        The very fact that the contractors that received excess radiation in radioactive water on Friday received that dose in the basement of reactor building 3 indicates that i act people have been in the buildings. Not to mention the whole reconnecting the external power, checking the operation of lights and gauges in the control rooms and checking that the cooling pumps and other systems are still operable and not submerged in water so that they can be used. All these things require at least some feet on the ground. Some of the work can be done robotically, but much is done by humans. the actual dose levels on site are tolerable in shifts with the appropriate equipment. You should do the research and check the radiation monitor levels that are available.

        As for having millions in panic, I don't know about you, but a fucking magnitude 9 earthquake and 12 meter Tsumani hitting my region would cause millions to panic. The subsequent misreporting of a nuclear power plant in trouble might cause panic to - as it has. Thanks mass media. The point being that the impact of the problems at Fukushima Daiichi are dwarfed by the impact of the events of March 11, yet all people want to bloody talk about is a nuclear holocaust - that isn't going to happen (and never really was on the cards either). The media have talked this up to the max without ever wanting to exercise any caution in their reporting lest it cause panic. In fact it often has seemed they were hoping for some panic since there was a fairly clear absence of panic in Japan.

        As for lies on an industrial scale, if that's how you describe mainstream media coverage, so be it.

      3. Anonymous Coward


        ""Reactors 5 & 6 are OK" and then "workers had to break holes in the roofs of 5 & 6 to prevent hydrogen build ups leading to explosions" (cus that's just perfectly normal behaviour for a nuclear reactor isn't it?)."

        The reactors are fine. The risk of hydrogen buildup came from the spent fuel pools where some fuel rods were insufficiently cooled. Have you actually read any of the factual details of this incident?

        "It looks like they may have...'

        "At least one core is possibly..."

        Well, it sure is great to see someone bringing some hard facts to the discussion.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Sums it up so far.

      Yup yup. Several thumbs up.

    3. Keith T
      Thumb Down

      The interest in Fukishima is that it could occur anywhere

      The interest in Fukishima is that it is an on-going situation, where as tsunamis is over.

      The interest in Fukishima is that it could occur anywhere, where as tsunamis require you to be on the coast of an ocean.

      Storing 10 times the design amount of nuclear waste in the storage pool.

      Inspection failures.

      Cutting corners.

      Inadequate training of staff.

      Improperly sited and inadequately protected vital equipment.

      Failure to provide redundant backup systems.

      At Fukiashima a fatal industrial accident is on going, and similar fatal industrial accidents could occur at other nuclear power plants elsewhere in the world triggered by other events, unless we ensure adequate inspections, regulations, and oversight.

    4. Highlander

      I'd actually be interested to know from the 11 folks who....

      ...felt that this original post needed a down vote, why did it need a down vote? Seriously, what factual element in the post is wrong? It's sort of pointless to downvote something because you disagree with it when factually it's correct. Seriously folks, if you have a factual argument with the post, then say so, otherwise I don't see the point in down voting on the basis of fact contradicting your opinion. In fact, when you let your opinion override fact, you have entered the realm of American politics and/or mass media reporting, and that my friends is not a place for a morally centered human being to be.

  62. heyrick Silver badge

    Oh, I'm sorry, I think I must have dozed off...

    ...there's something still going on in Japan? Really?

    <clicky clicky >

    Libya. Syria. Horny bastard priests. Ivory Coast.

    Oh yes. I see it. They're going to launch an enquiry. This is a little bit under the "Asia Pacific" section of the map, below such items as "US beauty queen wins 'fat' case".

    I think even the media is getting bored with the non-activity. After all, for a while there, radiation levels in some part of Tokyo were FORTY TIMES NORMAL (forty times practically nothing being...?) and... shit... NOBODY dropped dead. Nobody glows in the dark. There isn't a mass exodus from eastern Japan and Tokyo hasn't been razed in a mushroom cloud.

    Now, Libya, on the other hand...

    Likewise, there is a "minor scare" story on the Daily Fail website... after Mylene Klass, some old person given an incontinence test for their meds (wtf?), a ridiculous mark-up on pizza (yeah, why d'you think I roll my own?), schoolgirls texting naked pictures of themselves (umm, is that then NOT "texting"?), and some other stuff that might pass as actual news. Fukushima is no longer the lead story because... there's other nastier stuff to get bothered about.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Movie distortions.

    To those of you whose basic argument is "I don't see screaming people running in fear with their skin melting off them therefore it's just the media hyping things up" there is only one thing to say - you've watched far too many movies and need to come back to earth.

  64. jarzac

    Well said!

    I'm glad that things are being put in perspective in articles like this. I had notice a tabloid-journalism attitude from some "important" news sources since the first days of the Fukushima disaster.

    When putting nuclear power into question we should consider how many people die each year because of the use of Air Pollution cause by Particulate Matter (PM) that comes from coal mining and the burning of fuel.

    From the World Health Organization's website:

    "Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health and is estimated to cause approximately 2 million premature deaths worldwide per year."

    "Even in the EU, average life expectancy is 8.6 months lower due to exposure to PM. (Particulate Matter)"

  65. ThomB
    Jobs Horns

    Yeah let's see...

    So El Reg tells us that since RSA doesn't hand out useful information regarding the data theft they fell victim to, we best assume that SecurID's broken -- even if so far there's no factual proof, no confession of a disaster, no whistleblowing of any kind -- just silence.

    Seems to me TEPCO's information policy isn't so different from that, as their press department tried to downplay things for a good while as well. But we're to believe nuclear's safe.

    Or am I just missing the joke in all of this? Actually, this latest article was so pro it had a satirical quality. Maybe that was LP's hidden agenda all along? In that case, hats off

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Yes your are missing something...

      Broken security cannot be detected with a one of those yellow plastic devices going "tick..tick"

      Any further questions?

      1. ThomB


        how come you're missing the point?

        Besides, broken security can be spotted, by monitoring traffic for unusual/unwanted activties, using IDS/IPS tools and others. Think that's called "layered" security. and yeah, if the system is compromised that's harder, but I'd figure not impossible.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      re: RSA versus TEPCO

      It seems reasonable to check that you have sufficient layers of security, and look for suspicious activity, if SecurID is suspect - sysadmins can do something about that, and without too much hassle. OTOH how is anyone going to do anything useful at Fukushima, apart from the people who are already there doing the best that they can, with the information and resources that they have? The only effect that the popular media's sensationalising of incomplete/incorrect information and worst-case speculation can have is to compound an already difficult situation. I saw the other day that a Russian had been jailed for spreading alarmist misinformation about fallout - I wish that the worst publishers/broadcasters/journalists would receive the same sort of treatment.

      1. ThomB

        Sensationalizing aside...

        the thing that irks and partially scares me is that even TEPCO and the IAEA don't seem to grasp what is being measured and/or what the exact results were/are -- cf. the "10 million/100,000 times the normal level" information disaster from this weekend.

        Aside from that, a free press may have its disadvantages, and lots thereof. But I suppose you can protect yourself from sensationalist TV/radio/papers/magazines by not buying, watching, listening to them. Tens of thousands of people evacuated from the Fukushima area did not have that same chance.

  66. JimC

    Time for a new reg unit?

    The Dartmoor Cottage: based on the radiation exposure to be expected from living in one...

  67. Jerry 8


    Did they know that they were building reactors in a zone suseptible to force 9+ earthquakes?

    Did they know they were building reactors in an area suseptible to Tsunami?

    Did they adequately design the reactors to withstand the known risks?

    Will they always get it right in the future?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Update Chris !

    TEPCO VP says that the water contamination readings in unit #2 are now 100,000 times normal and that airborne radiation now measures 1,000 millisieverts per hour, four times the amount the government considers safe.

    They still do not have cooling control on reactor #2 but you say this is just a "minor incident", huh?

    1. Andydaws

      And yet, according to the daily update from NISA

      The Jaonese HSE equivalent, the temperatures in #2 reactor are 123C at the feedwater zozzle, and 112C at the bottom head. And the reactor is carrying about 1/10th of an atmosphere pressurisation.

      How does that marry up with "no cooling control"?

      Remember, there's the small matter of the decline in decay heat production.if a cooling regime that was removing adequate amounts of heat a couple of weeks ago, it'll be significantly less challenged now.

      The approximate formula is P = P0 * 0.00648*t^-02 ((where P is instantaneous power), P0 is power at shutdown, and t is time since shutdown in seconds. FWIW, P0 is about 1400Mw for R1, and about 2100MW for R2 & R3. Work it out for wourself, but I make it about 5MW for R1, and abpout 8MW for R 2&3 each.

      That's a long way from scary.

      What's starting to really annoy me is the inability (or unwillingness) of the press to check even basic data.

      1. Highlander

        Starting to annoy you?

        LOL! Andy, you have way more patience than I. Back when this first happened, a cursory understanding of the science should have told the media's experts that since the reactors scram'd successfully all that was left was the cooling requirement during the decay heat phase. However even a week ago there were still people irresponsibly pushing the line that the reactors could/would melt down catastrophically. There are still one or two hysterical nut-jobs that proclaim that, but this refusal to look at facts and apply basic science is nothing new.

  69. Trojan Horus

    Your "Oh sh*t" moment Lewis?

    Reactor 2 - readings millions of times too high... talk this one down. So, instead of insisting they increase the evacuation area you helped encourage people to stay... well done... not

  70. chillvisio

    Nuclear lobby

    It is increasingly evident the nuclear lobby from this article. I hope that its author goes to live near the Fuku NPP with all of its family and then reconsider his oppinion writing back a new article a few months later, probably from the Tokyo hospital for radiation poisoning treatment...

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      That's what any self-respecting industry lobbyist would do.

      "So, what did you do to help the nuclear industry and justify the fees we have been paying to your firm?"

      "Oh, I've posted many, many comments to Lewis Page's articles in the Register!"

  71. Stuart Duel

    There he goes again!

    Mr Page taking at face value without blinking every reassuring utterance issued by the discredited, secretive, dishonest, and deceptive disinformation campaigns of the Japanese nuclear power plant operators and government regulators. It's all been carefully stage managed and has been for so many years that the people have little faith in what they are being told anymore.

    There was sufficient evidence even before this accident that the extent of "damage control" activities undertaken by these bodies was first and foremost aimed at shoring up the public perception rather than the physical risk to the people and the environment.

    It's worth noting the independent nuclear watchdog in Japan hasn't been allowing to say a thing. Now why do you suppose that is?

  72. David 141


    Also, this is last weeks news.

  73. Winkypop Silver badge

    But what happens when....

    ....the radiation reaches the sea floor, surely we'll get a visit from Godzilla, or even Mothra?

  74. 42
    Dead Vulture


    Despite the irrelevant ranting of the likes of Page the public is too smart to allow nuclear power to expand after this disaster. The sight of the likes of Page desperatley spinning this disaster as a positive is funny as hell. They are so desperate to defend the indefensible.

    Better still they no longer trust the scientists, ironically because of the outrageous campaign to discredit science by the climate sceptics. Hoisted by thier own petard somewhat.

    Nuke is finished Lewis and no ammount of factual distortion will change that!

    Lovin very howl from the pro nuke brigade, now they know in their hearts it is a lost cause.

    So rant and rave and lie, and I will be the one ROTFLMAO!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      So I presume you are prepared to sign a waver that allows your power to be cut if and when there is insufficient electrical power from renewable and carbon sources to power the country.

      Or are you expecting that shale gas will save us all from power cuts? But what about the climate from all the CO2? Is carbon capture really advanced enough?

      I am of the generation where nuclear was the great hope for sustainable power (before North Sea oil and gas), am mainly pro-nuclear, and I live about 15 miles (that's approximately 467 Olympic sized swimming pools) from a nuclear power site that is in the forefront of the next wave of reactors One of my children attends an agricultural college within 5 miles (approx 155 Ossp's) of it. I'm not expecting to move after Fukushima (or even one of the local incidents that happened 10 years ago), and I am not pulling my kid from the college. I'm actually looking forward to the increase in economic activity to reverse the slow decline in the towns and villages in the area.

      I also like baiting the greens with real facts about wind and wave power whenever they have local campaigns. It's amazing how quiet (or in some cases, the opposite) they become when they realise that they are talking to someone who actually does know some facts rather than believing the agenda they are presenting.

  75. Some Beggar

    So now that you've written nine articles making essentially the same point

    you are going to accuse the rest of the media of flogging a dead horse? Even though most of the broadsheets and broadcast news have been talking down the risk (in admittedly far less smug and flag-waving terms) and undermining your point for at least a week?

    You're my hero.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think Lewis feels

      that someone has to inject some reality into the news. It's a counter-reaction to the large amount of guff in the mainstream media. If they flog it, so will he. And as we know from his defence writing (not that I agree with some of it), he can be a bit dogmatic.

      I know that I tend to argue against an incorrect position with a strength in direct proportion to the strength of the opposition. I think Lewis is doing the same.

      I am waiting for the after-the-fact reviews to see who was most correct. I know which side I'm betting on. All I hope for is that the BBC et. al. are made to eat some humble pie, not that I'm holding my breath waiting.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whoever wrote this article....

    Is total fucking idiot and I will personally smash my computer with a sledgehammer if I am wrong when I say that the Nuclear Plant in Japan is on the verge of catastrophic release of radiation as at today the 25th March 2011. The water that the 2 workers walked into was 10,000 (yes 10,000) times the radiation levels of the water that flows next to the reactor itself and they do not yet know where it is coming from. They believe the case around the reactor may be leaking or the fuel storage pool. So your idiotic article saying this is false alarm is total fucking rubbish.

    Watch this as well:

    and read this

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Jobs Halo


      ...but will you buy an Apple product after that?

    2. Highlander

      Can you use a 5 lb hammer and post the video to You tube please.

      ...since you are in fact wrong.

  77. Mystic Megabyte

    Yea but

    Lewis you knob head, this isn't about radiation* it's about the cost to the community.

    How much is a house or farm worth now in that area?

    Will they get adequate compensation? No, I doubt it.

    So go back to your masters at the Ministry of Truth and stick your nose up.......................

    You already smell of shit.

    What's your code name? Radium Rabbit?

    *Lets keep watering down the figures, never mind the core breach.

  78. Spindreams

    Always potential for a catastrophe

    I am getting a little tired of The Register publishing opinion as fact and conclusions before the story is even over.

    I've seen three big stories now (probably all from the same pro-nuclear proponent) with absolutely no column space given to opposing opinions.

    The articles are talking like this incident is already over and nothing happened or it is all good news, it's not and it isn't. All I see is that no matter how safe you *try* to make a nuclear power plant the fact is that there is always potential for a catastrophe (Ala Chernobyl) that can make large areas virtually uninhabitable for hundred's if not thousands of years and also negatively effect the whole planet in so many different ways.

    Compare that to other power generation schemes that have very little or no ecological or human effect if they were to be destroyed by a catastrophic incident.

    The fact that there is potential for these things is why I am against nuclear power. It only takes one terrorist with a big enough plane or an earth quake in just the right place. Only lucky escape (still to be determined) does not make it safe.

  79. testdept

    "..They say were young, and we don't know.."

    <Throws radio alarm clock at wall>

    One commentator describes the *current* situation as "very serious", while Lewi$ here decribes it as a harmless cakewalk - I mean, who can we really trust nowadays? One fact we do know however, the first commentator is the Prime Minister of Japan, with no known apparent reason for talking up nuclear disasters in his own backyard. That the other is an alleged industry shill, complete with obvious ADS complications, not to mention a worryingly severe repetitive tick, remains conjecture.

    Anyone wants to start a fundraiser so that **** can present his next 'nout to see here' exclusive BS article with a "Live (Still), Standing Before Not-At-All-Leaky Reactor #3, Fukushima" El Reg byline, count me in for a substantial contribution though.

    Anyway, as those reactor leaks wot don't exist (really) and are obviously nout to worry about anyway (honest), may as well get constructive here, re: Spiegel Photos:

    - Special prize of a Big Box Of Lewi$ Happy Pills for the best suggestion as to how they're going to get that back afloat - seriously, been pondering this myself for a while now, that looks, like, heavy. And, like our esteemed Mr Page, none too well-balanced at present either.

  80. Anonymous Coward

    japanese nuclear crisis

    what crisis?

    It's all over and under control, and now is the time to evaluate how the media blew up the story.


  81. fritz from london

    What has this got to do with IT?

    I think the register should stick to IT. I hate your forays into politics, and your anti green agenda

    1. Highlander

      You'll note the 'Science" menu item....

      ...and that this is publiched under the 'Physics' section of Science. Strangely enough IT is a technology industry. Tye fundamental elements of our industry are the hardware and the energy to run it. The hardware involves some extremely complex physics and chemistry during manufacture, and the production of the energy involves many types of generation, including nuclear. Without the world's nuclear energy production, we'd all be enjoying rolling blackouts and hoping our UPS systems were sufficient to bridge the outage.

      Let's not ignore the science and engineering backgrounds of Computing which is fundamental to 'IT'. At the end of the day, I find that this story is more than relevant for the Register for all these reasons, but then when I pile on the fact that the disasters in Japan, are in Japan and therefore potentially affect a significant proportion of the world's tech industry, this has even more importance for the more techie IT people.

      The fact that you and a few other script kiddies can't see that, is more an indictment of your own background than it is of anything else.

      1. Highlander

        error correction....

        Typos abound!

        ...and that this is publiched under the 'Physics' section of Science. Strangely enough IT is a technology industry. Tye fundamental elements of our industry are the hardware and the energy to run it.

        Should read

        ...and that this is published under the 'Physics' section of Science. Strangely enough, IT is a technology industry. The fundamental elements of our industry are the hardware and the energy to run it.

  82. ShiverinEskimo

    One Extreme to the Other

    Mainstream media reporting doomsday scenarios, Lewis Page waving a hand in a poor attempt at a jedi mind-trick saying "there is no problem, there was no problem, everything is ok, there IS no problem".

    As usual with sensationalist reporting of both kinds, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

  83. John Deeb

    unsatisfying on an unpersonal level

    While the author and many agreeing commentators might find it deeply satisfying on a personal level to call an extremely serious incident with a large nuclear installation in a populated area as 'minor' and relatively 'nothing happened' while cleverly analyzing some of the numbers, one might end up finding them seriously wrong on many levels, especially on the larger picture involved and various longer term consequences. Which might have escaped their surprisingly narrow focus.

    First of all the incident is assessed by all the relevant nuclear agencies for three reactor as level five which is two levels above 'serious incident' and just below 'serious accident'. There are reasons they did that and has nothing to do with scare mongering but with proper risk assessments.

    1. the accident is still ongoing with many uncertainties attached. To assess the situation already as minor or nothing happened is just as staggering nonsense as imaging mushroom clouds or mutated sharks. Fear is in most cases fear of the unknown. But that's not solved by pretending all is known and under control. It's not! First step is admitting there's uncertainty and take the fear inducing elements for granted, dealing with them by at least naming them. Not by belittling or relativising the whole accident.

    2. Reactor containment #3 with the hot plutonium MOX fuel could have been breached according to officials in the latest news (the 26th). After hearing two weeks it wouldn't happen from the belittlers. The rate of leaking and which path the radioactivity might follow is unknown - another fear factor! There are different viewpoints and conflicting readings on where it could be coming from: confusion! Panic! Or just: life? Fear is a proper response here unless it would freeze up the action.

    3. National power availability will have a freaking 20 percent shortage and already a hike in pricing, daylight savings and other imposed measures to cut back are announced. Another example why the effects of this supposedly 'minor incident' are actually major and serious. It's a whole different story compared to Kobe. This has a national impact on many levels for years to come.

    Summarizing: there's a lot of good reason to feel fear and report fear. It's natural and serves as a function to remain cautious before drawing all kinds of conclusions and prepare perhaps not for the worst but at least for something bad or drawn out.

  84. HopLobster

    The Register is not a news site

    It’s too early to call what the long term consequences of Fukushima will be. There may be more bad news to come, the stainless steel piping in Nuclear plants is not designed to have sea water pumped round it. Sea water caused the metal to become brittle increasing the chance of failure. If there is high pressure in the reactor one of these pipes could fail.

    Given that some of the workers in the plant have radiation burns from standing in water, this may have already happened.

    Turning the electricity back is not going to be an easy task as the insides of these reactors resemble bomb sites after the hydrogen explosions they have endured.

    I hope your prediction is correct but I fear it’s just a prediction and you should not report it as fact.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Latest News.

    This is seemingly the latest news from Japan and no doubt Lewis Page will still be saying we have nothing to worry about. Utter rubbish he talks;

  86. Lamm

    Some facts

    Some facts given by NHK WORLD (not really known to be alarmist...)

    ( ):

    "Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has detected radioactive materials 10-million-times normal levels in water at the No.2 reactor complex of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    The plant operator, known as TEPCO, says it measured 2.9-billion becquerels of radiation per one cubic centimeter of water from the basement of the turbine building attached to the Number 2 reactor.

    The level of contamination is about 1,000 times that of the leaked water already found in the basements of the Number 1 and 3 reactor turbine buildings.

    The company says the latest reading is 10-million times the usual radioactivity of water circulating within a normally operating reactor.

    TEPCO says the radioactive materials include 2.9-billion becquerels of iodine-134, 13-million becquerels of iodine-131, and 2.3-million becquerels each for cesium 134 and 137.

    These substances are emitted during nuclear fission inside a reactor core.

    The company says the extremely contaminated water may stem from damaged fuel in the reactor, and are trying to determine how the leakage occurred."

    My calculation: the radioactivity exceeds the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter by a factor of about 29-billions. Which means you'd need a cube of water with a side length of 307m to dilute 1 liter of it down to 100 becquerels.

    1. Highlander

      Um.... Iodine 134 has a half life that is under an hour.

      Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days. In 8 days, the 131 will he half as active, and the 134 will be gone. Actually, the 131 will be gone in less than a day. Cesium 134 has a half life of 2 years, so it will diminish over a realistically reasonable timescale, but clearly it requires clean up because you can't have the stuff sitting around for years. The cesium-137 is more difficult, and will require a clean up. On the other hand, we understand cesium 137 fairly well since it's widely used in industry for a variety of purposes.

      Of course I'm certain that the authorities want to know where it came from (has to be from the reactor, and whether it's coming from a broken circulation system that is leaking, or as a result of water escaping during the steam venting operations. Either way, this isn't the greatest news, but it's clear that the elements being found are fission products, not reactor fuel. So whatever the cause of the release, it's not a containment breech as such, and it also indicates that whatever damage has occurred within the reactor, it has not caused the fuel to be released.

      I understood from reports to the IAEA that the Japanese operators were attempting to pump the water into condensers at reactors 1, 2 and 3 because of contaminated water in all three reactor building's basement and sub basement areas. If the cesium can be removed from the water, that will make the clean-up task a lot easier.

      1. Highlander

        Typo in the first paragraph...

        I wrote:

        "Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days. In 8 days, the 131 will he half as active, and the 134 will be gone. Actually, the 131 will be gone in less than a day."

        That should read;

        "Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days. In 8 days, the 131 will he half as active, and the 134 will be gone. Actually, the 134 will be gone in less than a day."

        Since iodine-134 has an hour(ish) long half life, after an 8 day half life of Iodine-131 has passed the 134 has decayed past the point of significance several times since it will have undergone 24x8 half lifes.

  87. Frederick Karno
    Thumb Down

    This is beyond ignorance now

    And you are fuelling the flames of ignorance yourself well done.......

    for example just because an isotope is short lived does not mean its a lesser risk in fact in general the shorter lived the more reactive they are .it is how, where and why you come into contact with them that is important.

    There are extremely good reasons why the exposure levels are set where they are, anyone who thinks they should be raised should be pointed to our blind belief that asbestos was a gift from god..... we now have proof that it isnt but that took 100 years to find out ??? or so.Our major medical science in this area is still based on the events of WW 2 but has been refined since then as more information is gleaned.

    Playing down the fact that the workers got burned is rather stupid imo , they have received a massive dose to their feet that only with careful observation can be estimated.

    The point is they were burned by contact with water in an area that no one ever expected the water to be contaminated, this has to be a worry, a major worry.

    When this started i saw an interview with the designer of the sarcophagus that surrounds Chernobyl, he was of course saying that they would never need to consider that option at this plant. I bet they would love to have the airborne contaminants contained at the moment.

    I hope the workers at this plant are actually getting better information than is being drip fed to the public , the public should be told the truth , it will back fire on the industry as a whole if they dont, and put back the whole nuclear program,

    I am speaking as a pro nuclear but pro truth commentator, and i find your analysis just as misleading and misinformed as the press you comment on.

    1. Highlander

      No offence, but radiation is not a new science....

      Scientific knowledge of radioactivity and nuclear energy did not start with Chernobyl. Mankind has been learning about nuclear physics for well over 100 years now, and obviously our knowledge base on the effects of radioactivity and the exposure of humans to it has been expanding near exponentially since we started using radiation therapy medicinally. whether controlled or uncontrolled exposure is concerned, we have a lot of very well documented and studied cases of radiation exposure involving various radioactive sources. Japan sadly is better placed than any nation to understand the dangers of radiation.

      Yet you talk of it as if we are essentially ignorant about radiation. No scientist would claim we know all there is to know, but neither would any scientist agree that we are ignorant of the threats.

      Our science is not based on the events of WW2, we have decades of experience with radiation therapy in various medical fields, the use of X-rays in many different manners, not to mention other radiography techniques. The use of radiation in industry is not uncommon, the number of (rather well regulated and controlled) reactors in nuclear power plants is dwarfed by the number of industrial nuclear reactors in use.

      What is sad to see if the sheer ignorance that people have regarding nuclear physics, it's almost treated like a superstition rather than a science. Whenever anyone tries to being the real facts and science into the conversation someone invariably makes an entirely inappropriate comparison that plays on the emotional memories of everyone to tar and feather nuclear physics. Instead of using Asbestos or chernobyl as talismans of fear, why not try adopting fact and rational discussion?

  88. lord_farquaad

    reactor n°2

    1000 millisivert per hour this morning in some water found in reactor n°2.

    Everything is fine.

    Radioactivity released in the environment keep on growing.

    What you can't understand, is that the crisis is not because of the current situation, but because of where the current situation could drive us.

    Before the tsunami, all that happened could never have happened.

    After the tsunami, the "experts" told us that as the reactor had been stopped, this was just a cooling problem.

    After the first explosions and the first releases of radioactive elements, again "experts" start to pretend that there was no problem as the situation was under controlled and only short halflived element could leak.

    Every assertion done by "experts" in the last weeks have proven wrong.

    Do we really have to wait for the situation to go to the next level to have the right to say that this is a crisis ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton


      "Every assertion done by "experts" in the last weeks have proven wrong."

      Except those by the fear-and-doom experts, amirite?

      Maybe one should just collate all the sayings and assign them truthiness values and likelihood values.

    2. Highlander

      water in a contained basement of a reactor building is not an envoronmental release.

      subject says it all.

  89. ThomB

    Weekend upgrade

    For those still interested in this thread, I found an article on the NYT web page that outlines the situtation and doesn't seem particularly "scaremongering"; in general, it underscores what mayn posters have stated: nobody knows all the details yet, and that is what makes the situation not just difficult, but scary -- if not for IAEA and Japanese officials, then definitely for the public.

  90. lp15

    Enough pathetic propaganda please!

    From Sunday's Guardian:

    Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warned that Japan's nuclear emergency could go on for weeks, and possibly months. "This is a very serious accident by all standards," he told the New York Times. "And it is not yet over."

    Are we to believe he is some kind of tree-hugging Luddite?

    1. fritsd

      From the IAEA website

      I follow the news here:

      Apparently they've stopped the experiment to see how long a steel reactor could contain pressurised boiling seawater and have started to cool with fresh water again.

  91. Anonymous Coward

    Oh! Look...

    ... Lewis was right!

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC news website.....article from Sat 26th March 2011

    Along similar lines to Lewis...

  93. Anonymous Coward

    rad burns

    The difference between radiation burns and sunburn is that sunburn is only on the skin, while a rad burn goes all the way through. Had the workers had dosimeters tucked into their boots, the reading would have been higher, possibly arriving at a level even Mr Page would have to admit was significant. Today TEPCO is announcing radiation levels in the air around reactor 3 of 1000 millisieverst per hour, enough to produce fatal exposure in 5 hours.

    It's easy to be complacent when you are shielded from the radiation at fukushima by the entire bulk of the planet, as Mr Page is. It's so easy to say what is safe for others when you don't put your own future on the line based on your opinions. It's sad really.

  94. Alfie Noakes

    Due to the unique way that it is funded...

    I see the BBC are continuing with their "quality" reporting at (Japan nuclear plant: Radioactivity rises in sea nearby)

    Regarding "Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit," they quote Hidehiko Nishiyama (spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency) as saying "And, since [the iodine] has a half-life of eight days, by the time people eat the sea products its amount is likely to have diminished significantly.", but completely misinterpret it as "the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days".

    I think that Chris Hogg (in Tokyo) must have drunk too much bottled water!

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Reg! Get 2 medics! One to explain this event properly, the other to section the delusional writer


    Lewis - Register's resident troll.

    The main characteristics of these articles over the last couple of weeks have been:

    a) Remarkable ignorance of the medical effects of radiation

    e.g. the assumption that because workers haven't died yet that they have not been subjected to lethal exposures. This isn't just cancers (of many sorts), but serious cardiac problems, gastrointestinal damage and mental retardation.

    * Over many years (assuming they survive for long - some will)

    * Affecting any offspring, and their children, and so on... (this is well documented in medical literature - it's not new)

    b) Piss-poor arithmetic.

    * e.g. describing Cs-137 as a "short-lived isotope" (contaminates radioactively for 300-odd years, and chemically extremely toxic forever).

    * characterising doses 100s and 1000s of times above background as "low".


    c) Lack of any attempt to rectify (a)

    So evangelical about supporting the industry's attempts to save itself, and the vested interests of many governments, has this ex-engineer been that he hasn't been able to research radioactivity in sufficient depth to get some simple facts straight.

    * e.g. if you care to study around the subject you will find that the main reason that Chernobyl is able to be down-played by some today is because most of the proper research was written in Russian in Russian journals.

    The mix in scientific understanding between the USSR and "the West" during the Cold War was not huge, and only slowly has it come together.

    * Among even just the Chernobyl liquidators, the disaster played a highly significant role in the deaths of at least 100,000 of them. Almost all the others are extremely sick (See 'Battle of Chernobyl' on YouTube)

    This event brings a lot of things together:

    1 global political - nuclear industry - military self interest

    2 Astonishingly impressive complex engineering (going wrong)

    3 Well understood radiological and toxic effects of the substances involved - ignored here.

    4 Well documented medical consequences of exposure - this is frequently countered by (1) because they can always deny that an individual's diseases & conditions are linked to their exposure (see 'self-interest').

    Epidemiological studies are not easy as there is no cut-off point which constitutes 'no exposure' in a population, but the effects of some historical exposures are so large that the evidence is overwhelming - and backed up by the basic science.

    Battle of Chernobyl:

    So, Lewis, stick to what you know about and keep moaning about how much money we spend on shit jets, and Register - try and get your contributors to talk about things they aren't totally pig-ignorant about!


    1. CalDre

      Chernobyl - Definitive Study

      The most exhaustive study to date on the Chernobyl catastrophe, spearheaded by Dr. Alexey Yablokov and esteemed colleagues, estimates 1 million deaths attributable to the Chernobyl radiation, based on review of over 1,000 scientific papers published in the former USSR.

      Undoubtedly Lewis would take crack-shots at this research, due to insufficient controls. This may be a valid criticism, but provides no reason to throw away the entire research. The fact is using proper controls is expensive if not impossible given the lack of data; what is worse is the ridiculous IAEA and WHO conclusions of only a few hundred deaths, which are achieved by a conscious sticking of the head into the sand AND DOING NO RESEARCH WHATSOEVER. Somehow no research is supposed to be more reliable than 1,000 scientific papers - in the pro-nuclear "I love the taste of fresh plutonium in the morning" crowd.

  96. Trojan Horus

    Happy fish

    1,000 feet out to sea the radioactive iodine levels are 1250 times legal limit... yummy fish. Wonder if thats the 8 days to half life variety 131 or the 15,000,000 years to half-life variety 129? It's great to visit this site for the pro-nuclear view - it's a nice counter to the "we're all going to die" conspiracy sites... but really would you want your kids to be living within 50 miles of Fukushima right now or indeed ever again? Let's not get too evangelical for nuclear.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think that the authors underestimate the risk of radiation-related cancer

    "if children and young people drank milk .... their chances of getting cancer increased BY approximately 0.02 per cent."

    This is incorrect. According to the authors' own ref ( there were 4000 kids affected. 4000 out of 18000000 is 0.02%

    In other words, the correct statement should have been that "their chances of getting cancer increased TO approximately 0.02 per cent". This is a lot. 2 out of every 10000 children.

  98. Mr Templedene


    Lewis says we're safe, we're all going to die!

    Seriously though, this is putting the situation in the best possible light,maybe a good counter to some of the more panicy news stories, but still, very much a gloss over a situation were the Japanese gov are definitely being somewhat "cautious" about what they tell people.

  99. Dwayne
    Thumb Down

    Wish it was better news but it keeps on getting worse...

    IAEA reports detail workers were exposed to 2-6 Sv in contaminated water... This is just an ugly situation and likely confirms loss of primary containment.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Well, that took some time

      That announcement is stamped "Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (27 March 2011, 03:00 UTC)" but I can't remember seeing it 28th March 0100 UTC.

      Sitting on it, are they?

  100. Keith T

    Lewis, you're bringing discredit to yourself

    While the immediate fatalities and injuries from this accident will probably be limited to people on the facility grounds, even on the 25th it was obvious there were measurable radiological health consequences among workers at the plant and indications that it would only get worse.

    Properly regulated, monitored and managed, nuclear power is the safest and cleanest form of energy, safer and cleaner then wind turbines even (which have been responsible for 73 deaths), and far cleaner than coal power, which kills 17,000 US residents per year with its pollution.

    Burying our heads in the sand over the fatal accident at Fukashima will not promote public confidence.

    1. Ancient reactors need to be retired from service as originally scheduled, and new safer reactors built to replace them.

    2. Governments need to have their own independent radiation monitoring equipment in and around nuclear power plants.

    3. The world must ensure that no country's politicians or business people are allowed to corrupt nuclear industry regulators or plant operators to keep unsafe plants open or to keep plants operating unsafely.

  101. Michael Wright

    Lewis Page becomes increasingly desperate

    So, on Sunday 27th March more news of increasing radiation levels, Japanese government gets increasingly irritated with TEPCO.

    What this shows is that while nuclear power is a lot safer than coal, it's too tricky to be entrusted to ordinary commercial management (or, of course, Communist bureaucratic management).

    What is needed is not shrill denials of the risks, but sober consideration of the proper way to manage them.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "nuclear power is a lot safer than coal"

  102. proto-robbie

    Another day, another sievert

    Unfortunately, despite Lewis' best efforts, the power station persists in poisoning workers and the surrounding land and sea, and as of now appears to be getting worse.

    Looking forward to Lewis' last article, as the glowing slime engulfs us all.

  103. davefb


    the difference between 'they got 170 msieverts' and 'water of a dose of 6 or 7' is because of the different radiation, surely?

    Their dose meters are worn and mainly detect gamma rays, they wouldn't see much of the beta-ray (electrons) that they got from allowing water into their boots. So the discrepancy isn't that unexpected is it?

    Beta gets stopped by the tiniest of things, but they won't be well off if they got any of that water into their bloodstream, though again, surely only a tiny fraction would get into the bloodstream? I guess you'd compare with a blacksmith putting his hand on some hot iron ? external burns, but should be non-life threatening.

    tepco have given out lots of information, what they haven't done is given it out in technical form but watered down for journalists. I suspect other reasons they haven't said wether things like 'what the real damage is to the core' is , because it's an extremely damaged nuclear reactor in the middle of a disaster zone that has massive amounts of radiation near it...

    who's gunna go near it to measure it?

  104. jgweston

    misleading at best

    Dear Author:

    Your article "Fukushima scaremongers" is misleading with the information that it cites (or rather references but does not cite). I'm a big fan of citing information, so the WHO information on mSv exposure can be found at:

    Exposure to radiation is not just measured in mSv, but mSv over time. The WHO says "Occupational exposure should not exceed an effective dose of 20 mSv per year averaged over five consecutive years or an effective dose of 50 mSv in any single year. An equivalent dose to the extremities (hands and feet) or the skin should not surpass 500 mSv in a year."

    Your article does not note that the workers in the plant have been exposed to the amount of radiation in about two weeks, rather than a year, and that workers are subject to continued exposure. In Koriyama, 60 miles West of the plant, radiation levels are about 3.09 mSv PER HOUR. According to the WHO "the general public should not receive a dose of more than 1 millisievert (mSv) in a year."

    In addition, your article does not the difference between 'effective dose' and 'equivalent dose'. Effective dose is used in radiation protection regarding the risks caused by a uniform exposure of the whole body. Equivalent dose, which is the 500 mSv exposure you cite, is used to compare radiation doses on different body parts on an equivalent basis because radiation does not affect different parts in the same way.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


      "In Koriyama, 60 miles West of the plant, radiation levels are about 3.09 mSv PER HOUR."

      What the hell are you smoking? Where are the data that show this is true?

      The latest map here:

      definitely does not show anything like that kind of nuclear dusting.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Thumbs down, eh?

        "Two IAEA teams are currently monitoring in Japan. One team made gamma dose-rate measurements in the Tokyo region at 8 locations. Gamma dose-rates measured ranged from 0.08 to 0.15 microsievert per hour, which is within or slightly above the normal background. The second team made additional measurements at distances of 30 to 41 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose-rates ranged from 0.9 to 17 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.03 to 3.1 Megabecquerel per square metre."

        You get more rads from the granite in your kitchen.

  105. The Grime

    Oh dear

    So the world has divided into "Chernobyl-denyers" and "radiophobes". Great, that's going to help informed, rational debate. So what has Chernobyl-denyer-in-chief ignored in his latest tirade?

    "Extremely high radiation found in soil"

    Japanese authorities have detected a concentration of a radioactive substance 1,600 times higher than normal in soil at a village, 40 kilometers away from the troubled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture..... The results announced on Wednesday show that 163,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram of soil has been detected in Iitate Village, about 40 kilometers northwest of the plant. Gakushuin University Professor Yasuyuki Muramatsu, an expert on radiation in the environment, says that normal levels of radioactive cesium-137 in soil are around 100 becquerels at most. The professor says he was surprised at the extremely high reading, which is 1,630 times higher than normal levels. He warns that since radioactive cesium remains in the environment for about 30 years it could affect agricultural products for a long time. He is calling on the government to collect detailed data and come up with ways to deal with the situation.

    "he nuclear safety agency said tests on Friday showed radioactive iodine had spiked 1,250 times higher than normal in the seawater just offshore the plant."

    I guess the above articles were written by radiophobes, desperately trying to show nuclear power in a bad light. In fact, radiation is very beneficial to your health, after all, cancer is cured with radiation from nuclear power stations!

    And remember folks, the gubbingment/nuke power industry are desperate for all the new stations to get approved on a nod, we can't have no-nothing radiophobic Joe Public throwing a spanner in the gravy train works.

    1. Steve X

      "concentration of a radioactive substance"

      This says nothing except that the bit of soil analysed is radioactive. It might have been radioactive for 40 years, maybe since the construction of the reactor?

      Unless they do a comparative analysis for several elements they won't be able to work out if this is related to the Fukushima incident or not, and so until then this is just further scaremongering.

  106. Andydaws


    "NISA" the Japanese equivalent of the HSE over here, has issued an assay of the radioactive content of the water found in the basement of Fukushima r3.

    it's accessible here - "regarding the result of concentration measurement..."

    It's a very odd mixture, but a couple of thing stand out. One, there are no actinides. Two, there's a strikingly low concentration (even when you've adjusted for relative activity) of shorter lived isotopes. I've done a really crude analysis of the relative abundance of I 131 and Cs 136 compared to Cs 134, compared to their equilibrium levels in fuel in an operating core. They give differing results, but both suggest they're from fuel that's been out of the reactor for a minimum of 12 months.

    I'm buggered if I can see where the Chlorine and Lanthanum come from, though - albeit that they're tiny traces.

    That could be way out, because doing this properly is a much bigger job, integrating production rates and decay, but it suggests strongly that this is water that's been exposed to fuel in the fuel pond, not recently in the core

    If this is right, it's a "good news/bad news" case. The good news is that it suggests no compromise to the reactor containment (which is consistent with it holding pressure). The bad news is that it confirms fuel damage to the stuff in the fuel pond of at least this reactor. But, the lack of actinides implies it's can damage, not that the ceramic fuel proper.

    It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      interesting analysis

      > both suggest they're from fuel that's been out of the reactor for a minimum of 12 months.

      So now they know where the water from the storage ponds went?

      Those ponds hold hundreds of tons of material, and it has always seemed likely that the shaking from the quake cracked something and caused a leak. Unsurprisingly the staff were concentrating on cooling the freshly shut-down reactors, and someone probably took their eye off the water level gauges for the presumed less-urgent storage pools.

      How long will it take to dig & line a big hole, to pump this stuff into?

      1. Andydaws

        There's the small point they've spreayed a few thousand tonnes of water

        in the general direction of a pond where the level indicators are inoperative. If anything, they're more likely to have overfilled it, and had water draining out that way...

        As to disposal, the numbers I saw for R3 were about 3.9 million bequerels per cc of I131. so, 3.9*10^9 per litre (using Iodine as the example), that's about 9 * 10^-4 grammes per litre.

        So, if you were to assume there's a tonne of water, there's about 0.9 of a gramme of Iodine dispose of. Not much of a problem. You could probably sell it to a university lab somewhere.

        If you want to check my numbers, it's done by taking the half-life in seconds, and then doing (ln 2 )/ (half-life in seconds) to get the decay constant. Then divide the bequerel number by the decay constant to get total number of aroms present. Then multiply by atomic weight, and divide by avogadro's constant.


    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      "I'm buggered if I can see where the Chlorine and Lanthanum come from, though"

      From bleach spilled from the janitor's closet and broken light bulbs?

    3. Highlander

      Interesting to see how this shakes out....

      The earthquake make actually have caused some water to spill from the pools due to the extreme violence of the shaking, it may also have caused some of the spent fuel elements to dislodge from their stacking. We don't really know. but between that and the potential over-filling of the pools to ensure that they remain full, it's entirely possible that some of the water that is quite heavily contaminated has spilled from those pools without there being any real damage to the nuclear fuel itself, although as you say the casings are another story.

      But the thing is, no one has ever said that the casings are undamaged. All the media reports I have seen have focused on the fuel in the reactors or fuel in the spent fuel ponds and always the discussion is about the fuel itself melting, burning and being released. The discussions are always framed as if it is a foregone conclusion that the fuel rod casings have failed catastrophically, except of course, that's not how they are designed.

      I don't know exactly what to think of all of the mis-reporting going on. I do know that as long as whatever substances are found in the water inside the reactor buildings or power station site remain within those confines, the impact of the releases will be relatively limited compared to the impact of say, a chemical plat fire, or a refinery fire. or for that matter an oil-spill. But regardless of the truth of that, the limited and relatively contained release of these materials at fukushima will be reported with apocalyptic terms that do not attach to other industrial accidents that have worse consequences.

  107. CalDre

    Data, Smata

    "Three people sustained injuries equivalent to a mild case of sunburn."

    How do you know this was a "mild sunburn". Are you their doctor, or did this assessment fly out of your behind? Because I follow this news and there has been no announcement as to their condition. If I missed something, please, link. Otherwise, I am sure you will volunteer to drink some of the "safe" water they stepped in, yes?

    As to your comment: "None of this involves significant health hazards: actual radiation sickness is not normally seen until a dose of 1,000 millisievert and is not common until 2,000".

    But according to the NRC (which is basically a captured agency controlled by the nuclear industry), "it is believed that 50% of a population would die within thirty days after receiving a dose of between ... 3500 to 5000 [millisievert] to the whole body, over a period ranging from a few minutes to a few hours." Many other organizations have more conservative estimates. Moreover these estimates are based on skin-exposure, rather than consumption - hence the tap water situation is far graver than equivalent exposure on the skin.

    You want us to believe that at 2,000 mSv it's just some minor sickness, but at 3,500 mSv, 50% die?

    Sorry your nuclear stocks aren't performing well - NOT!

    1. GettinSadda

      More that 2000mSv

      From the International Atomic Agency Organization:

      "For two of the three workers, significant skin contamination over their legs was confirmed. The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers' legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts."

      Note: 2 to 6 sieverts is 2000 to 6000 mSv

  108. Dropper
    Thumb Up

    Hyper Rescue Firefighters?

    I guess no sugar cubes or choccy bars are needed for these guys then...

  109. bionerd23

    the poor irradiated worker...

    ...let's analyze his case a bit more. :)

    i'll drop some hints and facts:

    the sievert is the energy dose (gray, joule/kg == energy/absorbing mass) multiplied with the radiation weighting factor. the radiation weighting factor (which determines the "effectiveness" for damaging human tissue) for beta and gamma radiation is 1, so sievert == gray.

    it's different for alpha or neutron radiation, but as alpha radiation is shielded by even a piece of paper (or skin) and neutron radiation is not as much of a concern, let's ignore that.

    so, let's have a look at all the isotopes in nuclear reactors. I-131, Cs-137, and the like. they emit gamma radiation. yes. but only because the daughter nuclide is in an excited state after radioactive decay. the above famous "nuclear reactor products" both undergo BETA decay, while the I-131 betas have a mean range of <50cm in air, and the Cs-137 range ~150cm in air. in AIR, mind you, not in water. Cs-137's average betas can only travel 20cm in water... and there are isotopes like Sr-90 in NPPs, too, which are (almost) pure beta emitters., the big difference is the RANGE in a medium. gamma radiation can travel very far, while particle radiation - such as beta radiation - has a rather limited range.

    okay, next fact: tactical dosimeters are to be worn in a "representative" spot for the body. and that is NOT the leg. within my country, the law says civil defense crews / firefighters HAVE to wear their personal dosimeters on the UPPER TORSO POCKET of their jacket / protective gear. that's quite far away from the leg.

    so, let's remind ourselves... beta particles... low range in air, and even more so in water... and a distance of approx. 90cm between the lower leg and the upper chest level, where the dosimeter must be located.

    also, let's see... the bad protective gear was to be blamed - the water got into the shoes of the workers and contaminated their legs. only because of that, they received these radiation burns. they should've been wearing rubber boots, like some of the other workers.

    ...hey, wait. if RUBBER BOOTS made the difference between one worker being fine and the other one having a radiation burn on their leg, guess who's to blame - yes, the beta particle! a gamma ray would not care about boots, it just moves right through that rubber. to shield HALF of Cs-137's gamma radiation, you'd need to make your boots from 3mm+ lead, not from rubber! extreme example is Litvinenko. he "ingested" Polonium-210, a PURE alpha emitter. had he been wearing a dosimeter such as the workers in fukushima have, it would've read ZERO mSv as he died. now, do you think he died of the bad british food...? :-)

    by the way, beta emitters are widely used in radiation therapy, too. we make people ingest I-131 to treat e.g. thyroid cancer - the thyroid will receive such a high dose, it can - in the best case / optimal and homogenous uptake - DESTROY the organ (and tumor) completely due to the high dose of radiation - however, e.g. the BRAIN (which is not all that far from your neck) stays safe. you'll just have a bit of a throat inflammation, but that's all it can get at.

    also, if somebody ever looked into how teletherapy (radiation therapy from a distance - Cs-137 can and was used for that, too, to keep in line with mentioning our "fukushima fallout isotopes"), you'll know a normal (!) daily (!) dose (LOCAL dose, of course) of 2000-3000 mSv (!) will not do anything at all at first. it will take a week or two until even the slightest "sunburn" (radiation dermatitis) occurs. thus, to cause immediate (!!) redness and even blistering of the skin (like a severe sunburn), you'd have to expose your skin to much, MUCH more than that. so yeah, you'll work out of radiation therapy, with the tumor on your leg having received its target dose of 80,000 mSv (80 Gy; common dose over the course of a few weeks of therapy), your leg will likely be suffering from radiation dermatitis, but the dosimeter on your chest will still just show... 170 mSv. :-P

    well, okay, that's enough with the hints - go figure. :-)

  110. Anonymous Coward

    BBC quoting officials confuse one half-life with safety

    BBC: "Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the ....Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit... ...the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days, officials say."

    The half-life of Iodine-131 is eight days, at which point the levels would be reduced by half, or still 625 times the safety limit. Relying on decay alone will require a bit more than TEN 8-day half-lives, or about three months.

    Ocean mixing will obviously help to disperse the plume. But that would be unpredictable, and would have little to do with "eight days".

    1. Andydaws

      a whole three months....

      And thats's, of course, you assume no dispersal.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Widening the scope now ...

    Quarter million people in evacuation centres.

    Empty hotels.

    I wonder if there is an equation or an action that might be able to bring these two observables together?

    A possible consequence?

    Why transport stuff to the evacuation areas when people might be accommodated in relatively resource rich areas? Rather than move stuff that is much needed, move people instead?

  112. LouiseH

    Counting the cost other ways

    There are a great number of people living in makeshift camps who would no doubt disagree with the author about the seriousness of the situation. The reason there probably won't be significant numbers of deaths is that there has been a mass evacuation.

    The time to decide that this wasn't a catastrophe will be when hundreds of thousands of people are allowed back to their homes, possessions and livelihoods again. Counting bodies is not the only way to measure the effects of a radiation accident.

    I'm not an extremist; I expect that in the absence of a Chernobyl style fire the effects of a significant reactor core breach will primarily be confined to the exclusion zone and the death count small. But chuntering about "sunburn" is just ignorance.

  113. Andrew 98

    Job for Lewis?

    With Lewis' impressive amount of spin, someone wrap him in copper wire, stick him between the poles of a big magnet and he could generate more than enough electricity to replace a reactor or two.

  114. Andydaws

    But chuntering about "sunburn" is just ignorance.

    So, how come doses up to ten times the worst possibility of what's happened to those workers - localised doses, in just the same manner - are routine in radiotherapy?

    1. Highlander

      Careful Andy, you're letting facts get in the way

      ...letting facts get in the way of a good hyperbolic statement...


    2. nichomach


      radiotherapy is used in cases where the alternative is worse. The point of radiotherapy is to KILL CELLS. You do that to avoid consequences that are worse, like recurrence of tumours, not because it's good for you, you berk.

      1. Liam Johnson


        You are missing the rather obvious point that people don't just drop dead from the side effects of radiotherapy, even though the doses are huge.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Andydaws

        which doesn't change the fact that the surrounding tissue

        to the tumour under treatment is routinely subject to radiation on the order of tens of sieverts, and routinely recovers. The worst that seems to happen in 99.999% of cases is some formation of scar tissue.

        the reason why it's done isn't the issue - it's the response of the tissue itself, of course.

        In fact, I've just come across something that I found rather startling. That radiotherapy is actually used to treat some forms of non-malignant scar tissue. Presumably, the physicians that adminster that aren't overly worried about the cancer or radiation sickness risks

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Highlander

        News flash - All medicines are also poisons

        Here's a newsflash for you Nichomach.

        If you take too much Tylenol (paracetamol) you can die. Too much of any prescription medicine, and you can die. If you OD on simple vitamins, you can die.

        The key is the dose.

        But since you're so dead set on how radiotherapy "kills cells", what do you think anti-biotics do? anti-biotics are not specific weapons with surgical precision that kill only germs. Anti-biotics kill a lot of host cells beside the germs they are intended to take out. The bacteria in the human gut, those wonderful bugs necessary for our digestive processes to work are routinely slaughtered by anti-biotic use. the reason you feel sick with a high dose anti-biotic is that it's a toxin that you are taking as a medicine. it's killing small parts of you as well as the germs. So we ban such medicines because there is a risk? Or do we manage the risk by correct dosing?

        When it comes to environmental contaminants people run around like headless chickens because of radioactive contamination. It's often said that people fear nuclear contamination because it's invisible. Well, sure it is, it's not always possible with the naked eye to spot such contamination. Fine. However, you can easily detect and localize the contamination using a Geiger counter. Radiation is easily detected. How easy is it to detect other invisible and tasteless environmental contaminants such as say...dioxin? There are any number of chemical contaminants released by industry that we can't easily detect without sampling and lab work, and yet they are all at least as dangerous as nuclear contamination.

        As for being a 'berk', I'm not the one making uninformed comments on a highly technical subject,.

        1. nichomach

          And you're determinedly missing the actual point

          which is that you administer radiotherapy because a medical assessment has been made that this is the least bad option in comparison to, for instance, the risk of cancer recurring. That doesn't mean that it does not have persistent, indeed perhaps permanent, harmful effects, that just makes it the least bad choice. Unless of course you're advocating irradiation to those levels as some sort of spa cure...

          Acknowledging that is simple common sense, and does not mandate or even imply banning anything, so send the straw man back, Dorothy'll be missing him (although apparently both you and he could still do with a brain...).

          Yes, dosage is important in a medical context with regard to just about any therapy, as is assessment of risk versus benefit for the patient, but the people currently being exposed are being exposed to that risk with no medical (or arguably any other) justification.

          Now, I'm not running around like a headless chicken by pointing out that unnecessary or negligent exposure to greatly increased levels of radiation is a bad thing. Nor am I by pointing out that the use of radiation in the context of medical treatment is accompanied by an assessment that treatment is required and that radiotherapy, while it has attendant hazard, is the least bad option. In general I am in favour of nuclear energy as a reasonable component of a balanced energy policy. However, by the same token, nor am I the one burying my head in the sand with my fingers in my ears yelling "lalalalalala no problem here! The radiation's lovely!" while people are being exposed to significant danger of harm or worse.

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You know I want to agree with Lewis's POV, but he makes it difficult with all this hysterical calm-mongering. He needs to tone it down a bit. A lot.

    Wrt the plant workers: they stepped into a pool of water and received a completely unexpected regulations-breaching dose of radiation, and nobody can explain how it got there. Isn't that cause for concern? Just a little bit?

    And one can hardly blame the Tokyo water authorities for respecting existing health regulations, which presumably were instituted for a good reason.

    Would he prefer that these incidents were covered up? That would be a good way to prevent them being inaccurately reported...

    1. Highlander

      Who said noboby can explain?

      There's 1000's of gallons of water that have been pumped into these buildings that has become irradiated and contaminated. If you check the reports at the IAEA you'll find that they are actively working on pumping that water from the basements into the condensers to remove it. Just because you haven't read it somewhere doesn't mean that the information doesn't exist or is being withheld.

  116. snellasaurus

    Oooh something balanced on the beeb

    Read this, whilst a little basic and patronising to some it does make the point rather well that there are bigger things to wory about than Fukushima.

    People would do well to understand a lot more about the posibble consequences and risks before going off on one.

    Calm down (but please do continue) Lewis - your basically sound and valid message is sometimes coloured by your frustration.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Quote via the beeb...

      "People worry about radiation because they cannot feel it. However, nature has a solution - in recent years it has been found that living cells replace and mend themselves in various ways to recover from a dose of radiation."

      Like go easy on the potassium iodide! And there is increasing evidence that treatment with *melatonin* which assists cells in self-repairing is generally more appropriate as a long term treatment. Commercially controlled and a real bugger to get hold of in any large quantities tho.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Something balanced from the beeb? Well sort of, but their entire output is not balanced. Most of what people get from the BBC would suggest that everybody in Japan is going to die or grow three heads in the next couple of weeks. Their output on the subject is still heavilly biased towards scaremongering. Publishing the occasional rational story does little to redress the balance.

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Next nuclear quake disaster?

    Hey Santiago got a couple of old nuke stations too! This morning there was a 5.4 106 miles SSW of there. HAARP was reading 2.8Hz ELF which some (including the BBC) immediately took to be the 6.1 off the E coast of Japan (Odd when they failed to report previous similar aftershocks). I've figured all the stuff down in Japan was reading 2.5Hz while 2.8Hz is much similar to previous Chili quakes. So the bets are on and i'm sticking with Santiago for now. Laterz....

  118. Jim 59


    The author is overreacting to the media overreacting to Fukushima, and employing many of the same behaviors to do so. And another thing:

    ""BSE: it's not over yet" [yes it was],"

    It might not be for people who ate a lot of McDonalds in the 80s.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    welcome to the Nuclear Spin Zone :)

    A nuclear power plant that leaks radioactive coolant could never be described as ' under control ', now enough with the feel-good spin:

    Meanwhile a huge media campaign has been launched by the nuclear industry, in an attempt to dilute the negative impact the Fukushima incident will have on future financing of nuclear power in the west.

  120. Lamm

    More news...

    from NHK:

    "Radioactive water in external tunnels

    The operator of the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, northeastern Japan, has reported that very high levels of radiation have been observed in water in a trench just outside the turbine building for one of the reactors.

    Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on Monday that a puddle of water was found in a trench outside the No. 2 reactor turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Sunday afternoon. It said the radiation reading on the puddle's surface indicated more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

    The concrete trench is 4 meters high and 3 meters wide and houses power cables and pipes. It is located in the compound of the plant but outside the radiation control area.

    TEPCO says the trench extends 76 meters toward the sea but does not reach the sea, and that the contaminated water was not flowing into the sea."


  121. Volker Hett
    Dead Vulture

    The conspiracy is deepening!

    Now they found plutonium around the reactors! Since this can't come out of the reactors, it must have been planted there by some scaremongering environmentalists!

    1. Highlander


      You do know that Plutonium can be/is produced in really small quantities in most Uranium fueled reactors as a product of the reactions right?

      1. Volker Hett

        Yes, I know

        and in one of the reactors they use MOX elements. But since the reactor is not breached and no meltdown happened ....

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "They found plutonium"

      [citation needed]

      Not that it is impossible what with the whole building being transformed into toothpicks.

      1. ThomB
        Jobs Horns

        "They found plutonium"

        ...if you were asking who delivered that info: TEPCO themselves. Could be a reliable enough source if you're an advocate of nuclear power.

        Then again, with the perfect work they've been doing all along, who knows...

  122. John I'm only dancing

    I'm in meltdown

    I was hoping they'd rename the China Syndrome, Japan Syndrome. No chance of that now, I'm gutted.

    And regarding all the guff in the media, never let the facts get in the way of a good story (Sun, Mirror, Fail, Sexpress etc.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      China symdrome?

      For a Japanese accident, wouldn't it be a "South Atlantic somewhere off the coast of Argentina" syndrome?

      Doesn't have the same snappy ring.

  123. thurstjo

    Things that make me go hmmm.

    So according to you Lewis, the newspapers are fear mongering? Is not that a bit inconsistent with attempts by the nuclear industry to minimise the extent of the problem. I've seen interviews with "experts" on BBC who have called nuclear energy 'safe'!?!

    My understand is the following: There was an error in the reading of radiation levels at reactor 2 (it was said to be 10 million times normal). The leak from reactor 2 is still leaking dangerous amounts from its core. There is a growing problem of what to do with the radioactive water building up in reactor units. The fallout from Fukushima (iodine-131) has reached China in Dongning, Hulin, Raohe and Wusu townships. Radiation levels of seawater (iodine-131) just offshore (around 1 mile) from Fukushima is in 1000 times above normal. Impact on available food and water is still not clear (but many reports of radiation levels being quite high).

    Plus there are the things that the media haven't thought about. Consider that you have a reactor overheating (parts of the plant are made of metal or even concrete) and suddenly you drop massive amounts of cold water on it. Any person with a basic understanding of metallurgy would tell you that the plant is accumulating cracks in the metal!

    You're more than welcome to go there and report on it from ground level. I will stay at home and get my information from those I consider reliable sources.

    1. Richard Bijster

      Don't worry Lewis knows everything.

      According to Lewis you are a scaremonger. None of what you say matters, nothing the Japanese govt. says matters, the Japanese power company Tokyo Electric Power Co must be believed at all times as it always tells the truth. Lewis knows everything that is going on at Fukushima, even more so than those trying to sort out the disaster, or 'small irrelevant mishap' as Lewis would probably call it A semi-meltdown is not a serious issue for Japan, China, any other country in the area or any ecosystems. Massive radiation levels now being reported must all be lies and based on scurrilous gossip and scaremongering. Nuclear power is safe as houses. Lewis is the God of nuclear energy, knowing more than any expert on the ground at Fukushima or on the entire planet. Funny that he still hasn't caught the first flight to go and pitch his tent in the exclusion zone yet. I wonder why? Could he be scared to stay around the plant without any protection for a few weeks?

    2. Steve Murphy

      Things that make me go hmmm.

      Don't forget what has been written in the past, no radioactivity outside the fence, containment vessels not breached.

      When Lewis is going on about the BS written by the media, he would do well to look back on the BS he has already written on this.

      TEPCO still don't have the plant under control, they keep on finding radioactivity in places where it should not be, they are making massive errors in their measurements - unbelievable. But then TEPCO do not have a history of telling the truth - and Lewis has made his own history these last weeks.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You guys are really over the top to publish this claptrap but if you can stand the embarassment be my guest.

  125. Andydaws
    Thumb Up

    well, there's an exercise

    in Hysteria....

    in no particular order....

    one, there's no particular issue about what to do with the turbine hall water. Since BWRs are direct cycle plant, they're built with an isolated, active drain system. That's being used to move the water to the Turbine condensate tanks. In r3 it's already underway, in R1 & R2, they're draining down (non activated) condensate to make space.

    Second, there's no indication of ongoing leaks. It's not clear where the water is from leaks, or from condensation from earlier steam venting, or even originates from the dumping of excess water into the fuel ponds.

    Third, the "high readings" offshore are more an artefact of the low normal operating discharges than of large amounts of iodine. I did the sum for the trubine hall water upthread. This is two or three orders of magnitude lower, in terms of concentration. It's of the order of a milligramme of iodine per cubic metre.

    Fourth, whatever makes you claim that the reactors are "cracking"? They're not highly pressurised, and anyone with even a first-year undergraduates knowledge of fracture mechanics would know that cracking is more a low temperature phenomenon than a high - crack growth requires local brittle failure, and high temperatures mean that ductile phenomena predominate.

    The ONLY cracking phenomenon I know of that works at high temperatures is stress-corrosion cracking, and these reactors, two weeks post shutdown are neither hot enough, or pressurised enough (they're at between about 1.2 and 3 atmospheres) for that to be possible.

    Incidentally, take a look at a BWR schematic. If you can see a way to drop large quantities of water onto a hot reactor vessel, I'll be impressed. The vessel is inside the containment drywell, which is in it's turn built into the secondary containment and has a massive, concrete biological shield cast against the containment shell.

    I'd look a little further afield for "reliable sources" than those you are using at the moment.

    1. Hermes Conran

      All very interesting Andydaws....

      how do you explain the plutonium in the soil outside the reactor building?

      1. Liam Johnson

        Oh no, plutonium

        Open wide, here is your dinner....


        Traces of plutonium are not uncommon in soil because they were deposited worldwide during the atmospheric nuclear testing era. However, the isotopic composition of the plutonium found at Fukushima Daiichi suggests the material came from the reactor site, according to TEPCO officials. Still, the quantity of plutonium found does not exceed background levels tracked by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology over the past 30 years.


      2. Andydaws

        I'll wait until I've seen an isotpic analysis

        to comment on how it got there - what's apparent is that it's a pretty minor amount. Notably, none of the assays of either the water that's putatively been in contact with the core, or fuel rods has identified any actinide content. So, the sensible response is "wait and see".

  126. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the radiation just keeps increasing

    For a "minor incident" that was under control in a couple days, why the Hell is the water radiation level 12 miles out to sea also skyrocketing in addition to local ground water, reactor cooling water and the air?

    Perhaps Lewis can define: "minor incident" ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      "Skydiver 1. Radiation skyrocketing, UFOs in vicinity!"

      We hear AC saying: "For a "minor incident" that was under control in a couple days, why the Hell is the water radiation level 12 miles out to sea also skyrocketing in addition to local ground water, reactor cooling water and the air?"

      "Two IAEA teams are currently monitoring radiation levels and radioactivity in the environment in Japan. One team made gamma dose-rate measurements in the Tokyo and Chiba region at 3 locations. Gamma-dose rates measured ranged from 0.08 to 0.13 microsievert per hour, which is within or slightly above the background. The second team made additional measurements at distances of 30 to 46 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose rates ranged from 0.5 to 3 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.02 to 0.3 Megabecquerel per square metre.

      New results from the marine monitoring stations 30 km off-shore were received for seawater samples taken on 26 March. The levels decreased at most of the locations. For iodine-131 the concentration results for four monitoring stations are between 6 to 18 becquerel per litre, and for caesium-137 between -- below limit of detection -- and 16 becquerel per litre. The dose rates measured on the sea surface remain relatively low between 0.04 and 0.1 microsievert per hour.

      Samples collected on 26 March 330 metres east of the discharge point showed increasing concentrations. There were found to be 74,000 becquerel per litre for iodine-131, 12,000 becquerel per litre for caesium-137, and 12,000 becquerel per litre for caesium-134.

      It is still too early to draw conclusions for expected concentrations in marine food, because the situation can change rapidly. Modelling results show an initial north-eastern transport of liquid releases from the damaged reactors. "

    2. Andydaws

      why is radiation "skyrocketing"?

      Because it's measured against an extremely low standard, and because of diffusion and mixing.

  127. cnapan

    Thanks Andydaws, highlander et al

    Thanks for patiently bashing the moles as they pop up.

    After a week during which we were supposedly to be plunged into nuclear armageddon, it must be very frustrating for those clinging to their religious belief in the evil of nuclear technology to have no actual stories of nuclear deaths to cling to.

    This is the most pathetic armageddon I've ever witnessed. The people of Japan are battling with levels of radiation which they'd get from a lovely thatched cottage in Devon or a flight to Disneyland.

    Run for the hills!

    Yet it isn't really funny. With around 20,000 people confirmed dead so far from mundane things like their homes being washed away by the sea, what is wrong with you people?

    Don't you feel just a little ashamed that you hide uncomfortably from the raw facts about mortality and nuclear power, as well as the surprisingly high death toll from more mundane forms of power generation?

    When you tiptoe over the facts which jar uncomfortably with your armageddon rhetoric, doesn't it feel a tad... dishonest?

    What's the point of clinging to a belief which the facts don't actually support?

    If nuclear power is so dangerous, how come so few people die from it, even when the worst that could ever happen does happen?

    Northern Europe experienced your armageddon just 20 years ago. As armageddons go, it was pathetic, with the most significant cause of suffering from the incident being the pyschological stress it led to.

    Live longer: stop getting so hysterical about nuclear power. It's the only low carbon technology which can power large industrial countries for the forseeable future, and once the hysteria dies down, policy holders will be left looking at it for our energy needs for the next 50 years or more.

  128. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Cracking reactors?

    Maybe a large earthquake, getting hit by a tsunami with the odd explosion here and there have had little or no effect on the structure at all.

    In fact it is ready and willing to take another earthquake of the same magnitude and another tsunami of the same magnitude and still stand to tell the tale?

    And maybe there was no (reported) explosion in the torus pool thingy.

  129. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone seen a Vulture eat Crow?

    in light of the days latest developments:

    Looks like the rest of the world is catching up with the question some of us have been asking for a while now. Where has all the sea water they have been pumping into the reactors been going?

    Looks like unsurprisingly some of it is ending up in the ocean, some is probably soaking directly into the ground. Oh and then there is the now widely reported, potentially lethal, maintenance tunnel lagoon of Joy and Happiness. Anyone want to guess how many other voids in the buildings are flooded with highly contaminated water?

    So big surprise, we are finding out that the situation is worse than initial reports, because we are only now beginning to hear how much damage the units have really sustained. I wonder if this will be a tipping point for Lewis, or if he still will stay in full spin mode, even when it's clear he doesn't have enough facts about the situation yet to blow it as an over-hyped, non issue.

    1. Highlander

      Do you seriously think that...

      ...think that anyone with any knowledge of the design of the reactor building isn't wondering where the water goes? I believe that the answer is steam and the basements.

      Water that is not contained within the structure, that which spills out at the surface may of course get into the ground, and there has already been wide acknowledgement that higher than normal levels of radioactive materials (iodine and cesium isotopes) have been released into the local sea. If you were watching the reports via the IAEA you'd already know that.

      The news about water in the basement areas broke on Friday, assuming you were reading the appropriate reports, and over the weekend engineers started to work on pumping it out of the basements into the condenser systems.

      I'm not aware of anyone here - who you would likely think should eat crow - has been missing these facts. Personally I've striven to stay as current as possible with all the information from Japan, via TEPCO, IAEA, World Nuclear News, NHK and contacts in japan with the occasional nuggets. Generally speaking by the time CNN reports something, I've known about it for at least 6 hours - no joke. Often CNN has been 12-24 hours behind, and the rest of the media is worse.

      But whatever, it seems you too have made up your mind. Personally, I keep an open mind, and if more information becomes available, I will always adjust my position to reflect that, but I won't doomsay - just in case, I'll leave that for folks like you.

      1. Andydaws

        Yes and no (steam and the basements)

        To all accounts, they stopped venting pressure to atmosphere from either containments or reactors the best part of a week ago. So, there may well be deposition in the building from earlier venting, but that's not likely where it's going at the moment.

        A BWR RPV pressure relief vents to the containment, and then to the wetwell/suppression chamber.

        I suspect the most likely answer is, they're letting water accumulate in the containments, awaiting restoration of residual heat removal systems (which is what they were trying to do when the activiated water was found.

        A BWR containment drywell (not the suppression pool) is about 12,000 cubic metres. Doing a quick number at the 7 tonnes/hour they're saying will hold R2 and R3 at stable temperature) for a week gives roughly 1100 cubic metres. So, it'll be only at the lower end, well below the reactor itself.

        The containments are designed to be flooded, during refuelling, so nothing exceptional there. What I've not been able to identify is where the draindown route from the containment is, and where the water used during shutdowns (which would have to be treated as activated) goes. My guess would be to the turbine condensate tanks, but I really can't find anything at sufficient detail to confirm that.

        What I'm not sure about is Reactor 2. If the suppression chamber is compromised, I don't know if there's a mechanism to isolate the drywell from the suppression chamber, so depending on the nature of the compromise to the suppression torus, water in R2 may or may not be an option. Having said that, the diagrams I've seen show the pipework connectiing the drywell to the suppression chamber are some way above the base of the containment, so even then some water build-up would be an option.

        As far as heat loss is concerned, we're at an interesting stage. R2 and R3, the bigger two, should now be generating about 7-8MW of heat., R1 rather less (about 4-5MW). A quick, crude number suggests that that, passing through the containment walls should only be in the range of 4-5KW/m^2. Given that your average domestic radiator can shift 2-3KW/M^2 with a temperature differential of just 20C or so, that's suggesting to me that the overwhelming majority of heat can be lost to ambient by a mix of conduction/convection from the containment walls. That'd account for there being no great build-up of pressure in the containments even if they're being used as holding tanks.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The foolishness that passes for knowledge is laughable

    I'm NOT opposed to nuclear energy but i just laugh at the fanbois who can't deal with the realities of nuclear accidents like 3 Mile Island, Chenobyl and now Japan. If you were to believe the fanbois, the problem in Japan was a "minor incident" that was under control in a couple days. No one has died yet, well actually we don't know who has died yet in Japan and the situation is not under control yet weeks after the "minor incident"...

    The fanbois continue to assure the world plus dog that this is no big deal yet the Japanese government has statey this is a grave situation that is actually getting worse by the day. The VP of TEPCO has reported radiation in the cooling water, air and sea water has increased to many times the safe level. Crops, drinking water, food, milk, etc. have all been contaiminated and it's spreading miles from the nuke plants, yet the fanbois claim their is nothing to this "minor incident".

    Are the nuke fanbois this technically ignorant or just in extreme denial? BTW hows life in Chenobyl these days? Oh, wait, there is no life in Chenobyl. It's still a barren, contaminated wasteland.

    1. Highlander

      Well, let's see, compare and contrast Chernobyl and Fukushima


      Uncontained reactor mediated by graphite runs out of control in a critical state. There is a fire, and an explosion and the reactor building explodes. The resulting fire literally vaporizes the core which burns for days (thank you uncontained reactor using graphite). After days of burning and releasing active nuclear fuel to the atmosphere, some self sacrificing and extremely brave men managed to douse the fire and eventually bury the thing. The radioactive plume covered much of the immediate area in highly concentrated radioactive dust, that same dust spread much farther afield thanks to the winds of fate, covering northern Europe in a fine dust of radioactive particulate matter.


      Magnitude 9 earthquake and 12 meter Tsunami hit. Reactors scram, decay cooling begins. Cooling systems are disabled by Tsunami, only batteries remain and they run out. Station black out. The reactors are BWRs, they are inside a steel reactor pressure vessel and steel containment system, which in turn is inside a secondary containment facility made of pre-stressed concrete. The reactors are cooling, but still the heat from the decay of fission products is sufficient to boil water. It has to be cooled. An inability to operate the usual cooling systems forces an improvised solution of fire pumps and sea water. The pumps are not strong enough to inject water under pressure and steam has to be vented. The steam contains some of the fission products, mostly radio iodine with a half life of 8 days. Other isotopes exist in smaller quantities. Three reactors are affected and steam is vented from each to maintain cooling water supplies. The reactors are now comparatively cold, although still warm enough to boil water (at least reactor 2 is). They continue to cool naturally.

      Because of their construction and fuel mix, there is no realistic chance of a runaway reaction even if there was a complete meltdown. However at the temperatures the reactors have been at for some days, the damage that results to the core is warping of casings, not complete meltdowns. In any event, there has been no confirmed release of nuclear fuel from Fukushima, no reactor fire, no breech of the primary containment or secondary containment of the reactors. The Hydrogen explosions in the upper elements of the reactor buildings looked incredible, but they are designed to blow apart to protect the reactor containment systems.

      Radiation detected so fact outside the immediate area of the nuclear power facility has been higher than the limits, but has been both shortlived and not immediately life (or health) threatening. The water in Tokyo would have had to be consumed for a year at the level detected to produce any significant dose of radiation (still not a large dose), but it was caused by radio iodine with a half life of 8 days and 24 hours after the initial detection the levels had already fallen back below the safe levels.

      See, there's really no comparison between the two events and situations, except in the deranged minds of the mass media, and people who have no understanding of nuclear physics. Basically, Chernobyl is little more (in this discussion) than a huge red herring, or possibly a talisman of evil to be used against the nuclear industry. But I do have to wonder if we can use the events at a poorly run soviet reactor that exploded due to a total lack of control or regulation in this way to somehow paint the nuclear energy industry with the same brush, then does that mean I can use the equally uncontrolled and unregulated coal and coal power industry in China to pain coal in a different light? That's really all you're doing by bringing Chernobyl into the discussion.

  131. Anonymous Coward

    nuclear power?

    no thanks :-)

    Looks like the mug taxpayers are going to be bailing the nuclear industry out, again.

    Whilst evrything in the article may be true, the fact remains that this is a giant fuck up. As is anything that needs a 20km exclusion zone when it goes pear shaped.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


      "Looks like the mug taxpayers are going to be bailing the nuclear industry out, again."

      FYI: With "renewables", the taxpayers never stopped bailing...

      And I don't know how large the exclusion zone for 3 Gorges would have to be but I can guarantee it will be larger than 20km.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nuclear ?

        FYI: With "nuclear", the taxpayers never stopped bailing...

  132. Tom 7

    half life of 8 days and 24 hours laterhad already fallen back below the s

    Thats a seriously bad piece of science or a lie.

    Yes it has a half life of 8 days. The contamination in the sea was over 1200 times the safe level so it would take at least 80 days to get to the safe level - if you are going to compare and contrast don't grasp at straws from press printing errors.

    And since you mentioned Chernobyl - they had ,what, 150 tons of fuel on site and Fukushima has over 1000 tons of fuel and spent fuel. Its all perfectly safe unless you read today's reports of plutonium in the ground water.

    There is no chance of a runaway reaction - there doesn't need to be - there is sufficient heat to melt down and release the radioactivity into the sea and air without any problems at all - if as is increasingly likely the humans plying water on it to cool it down have to be evacuated.

    As for the coal industry - I have a choice as to whether I work down a coal mine or not, I don't have the choice of hiding my children from radiation leaks. Many of you shilling for the nuclear industry seem to have a rather optimistic grasp of engineering. I thought nuclear was the saviour of the universe - until I actually went to university and studied it.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      @Tom 7

      "The contamination in the sea was over 1200 times the safe level so it would take at least 80 days to get to the safe level"

      Provided you are suggesting that Tokyo residents normally drink raw sea water from near the cost where Fukushima plant is - then yes.

      "I have a choice as to whether I work down a coal mine or not"

      That's very good - because a lot of people don't.

      "Chernobyl - they had ,what, 150 tons of fuel on site and Fukushima has over 1000 tons of fuel and spent fuel."

      Are you a politician? Because you are obviously refusing to notice the point about Chernobyl being an uncontained explosion of a critical graphite-moderated reactor, whereas in Fukushima there isn't even one confirmed containment breach yet.

    2. Liam Johnson


      >>it has a half life of 8 days. The contamination in the sea was over 1200 times the safe level so it would take at least 80 days to get to the safe level

      Unless it was being dilluted by a huge source of water, like say the Pacific ocean?

    3. Andydaws

      No, you're forgetting something obvious.

      The ioding (which is the primary contaminant identifed int he seawater samples) will of course disperse - a mixture of being removed/mixed by currents, and simple diffusion. As indeed, it seems to be doing already, levels at the plant outlet having fallen by 60-70% from the peak reading.

      Incidentally, I looked up the way that you work out the actual amount of the radioactive substance per cubic metre, from a bequerel figure. The iodine in sea water is in the microgrammes/litre range.

      " there is sufficient heat to melt down and release the radioactivity into the sea and air without any problems at all "

      Not really. See the comments above. Even assuming the containment shell is only as good at shedding heat to it's surroundings as the average domestic radiator, it'd only need to be at 40-50C above ambient to shift all the decay heat from the fuel, even in the larger reactors. And since it's cast directly into a rather large heat sink - the concrete biological shield - I'd expect it to be considerably better at shedding heat.

      ", I don't have the choice of hiding my children from radiation leaks"

      No, and you can't hide them from the radiation inherent in coal combustion (coal's got significant uranium and throium content, removing which would need particulate filters a few orders of magnitude better than those that are used to remove fly-ash.). Add the delights of chemical toxins like mercury released from coal combusition, and it's not only a bigger radiation problem than nuclear, but a much bigger toxic issue.

  133. Anonymous Coward

    tis just a flesh wound

    "Provided you are suggesting that Tokyo residents normally drink raw sea water from near the cost where Fukushima plant is - then yes."

    Oh dear. You seem to have overlooked that the Japanese diet is one of the most seafood dependent in the world. Shellfish, sea cucumbers, seaweed... they eat the lot.

    Guess where seafood comes from....

  134. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Frankly I'm getting a bit pissed off with this.

    Can you go plug your opinions somewhere else please Lewis? I'm sure this isn't what the Reg is for.

    1. Highlander

      Sure about that are you?

      The Register is about IT, Science and Technology.

      This is a major story affecting Japan and the electricity that supplies Japan. Japan is a world leader in technology and home to many of the products that we IT professionals use every day. I can think of many different angles on this story just from that point of view.

      However there is a bigger issue of how the media today reports science and technology, and that too is an important aspect of this story since it's been so poorly reported by the mainstream media, I'd be surprised if the Register wasn't interested in that, and of course they are, they even published a story about that today.

      It kinda of seems to me that your question more relates to your own view that this story should get no more coverage than it does the actual relevance here.

  135. cnapan

    Good new article here

  136. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The nuclear fanboi's are doing a very good job of constructing and attacking straw men. Yes it's no Armageddon scenario, yes its not going to kill huge swaths of people, yes we can compare it to radon in Devon (which is estimated to be responsible for at least 1100 deaths per year in the UK) and radiotherapy (makes you pretty ill and increases risk of future cancers). But then human life is cheap, especially when it’s impossible to pin a cancer on a certain event or substance with certainty.

    What’s ignored by the fanbois is the massive cost of this f**kup. Three Mile Island had a total cleanup cost of about $1 billion, Fukushima will clearly dwarf that and what of the further costs? Would any of the protesting fanboi's here not choose normal spinach over Fukushima spinach? We may not be talking life threatening levels of radiation but you would have to be a little strange to choose not to avoid the radiation given the choice.

    Yes this event may show we can have massive nuclear f**kups with minimal lose of life but it has also shown that it’s bloody expensive and dispite Lewis Page’ rantings it is very far from a glowing endorsement for nuclear no matter how warped your rose tinted spectacles.

    1. Andydaws

      Radiation and Devon (I think you mean Cornwall)...

      The main exposure route in areas like Devon and Cornwall is via radon exposure. And as far as I'm aware, there's no valid evidence of excess cancers in those areas at all. Take out the fact that they're retirement areas, and tend therefore to have a older than average population, and any claimed excess actuall more than disappears.

      you might find this interesting. It's the biggest epidemioloigical study on Radon exposure done to date - US, rather than UK, but since it gives a larger statistical base, that's probably a good thing

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... Humbug!

      How odd that you completely failed to account for the massive cost of this f**kup only being necessary because of the even bigger costs of the tragic events that have killed thousands of Japanese people and that will make "the massive costs of this f**kup" look like insignifigant. But then I don't suppose those costs count in your little anti nuclear world... in which case it seems odd that the costs that your whining about should count. Cause and effect and all that.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Firstly I am not anti nuclear, as long as the costs add up i'm all for it. I'm really have no idea where to start with the rest of your nonsense.

  137. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Andydaws

    I mentioned Devon in reference to the post by cnapan, Devon along with Cornwall does have areas with high levels of radon. Of course this doesn't mean every dwelling in those areas will have high levels of radon and many that do will have taken precautions to reduce levels. Whether there is valid evidence of excess cancers in those areas with high levels of radon or not, Radon exposure does increase levels of cancer and presumably by mentioning Devon cnapan would have meant those dwellings with higher radon levels than normal.

    Either way it’s irrelevant to the point I was making.

    1. Andydaws

      if the presence, or absence of excess cancers

      In Devon and/or Cornwall isn't relevant to the point you were making, why did you mention it?

      Take a look at the paper I gave a link to, btw. It gives an interesting perspective on low-dose impacts. It shows that there's no statistically detectable correlation of cancer with radon exposure (specifically, lung cancer, since that's the organ directly exposed).

      So, it is both directly relevant, and problematic for your argument. There's no UK excess such as you claimed, and a much larger, and statistically rigorous study finds no increase in cancer rates with radon exposure.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Andydaws

          a bit more than an aside, though

          Surely it's something that fundamantally challenges your logic, that low level exposures inevitably lead to an increase in cancer incidence?

    2. Andydaws

      a little confirmation

      "The current advice of the National Radiological Protection Board to government is to concentrate radon measurements, remedial action, and preventive action principally on Cornwall and Devon, but cross-sectional geographical data do not support the hypothesis that raised levels of radon indoors in southwest England have an important effect on lung cancer mortality. "

      "Using aggregate data for the counties of England and Wales, a negative association is found between mean radon concentrations in dwellings and lung cancer standardised mortality ratios, when regional smoking variations, diet variations, social class variations and population density are controlled. Cornwall and Devon have the highest mean domestic radon gas concentrations, yet the number of lung cancer deaths there was within the range to be expected from relationships not involving radon observed in the rest of the country. While high values of radon exposure appear to concentrate in particular localities, the variations in lung cancer mortality between districts in Cornwall and Devon are small...."

      That latter's interesting - it comes to the same conclusion as the US study I cited earlier - a NEGATIVE correlation between increasing dose and cancer incidence. Wade Allison, and the believers in low-dose radiation hormesis may well have something going for them after all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        a little silliness

        The figure of 1100 is for the whole of the UK. 1100 out of 60000000 shows its an insignificant risk especially seeing as this is really only a risk for those that also smoke. There clearly aren't going to be any major nagative health consequences to this event, I wasn't trying to scaremonger with this figure, i asume the average reader of the register to be of a certain level of inteligence and to realise this figure was minute, but i will admit to having used it as bait. So thanks for biting, constructing your straw man and further emphasizing my point.

        1. Andydaws

          For the whole of the UK?

          Strange ten, that you used the words

          " we can compare it to radon in Devon (which is estimated to be responsible for at least 1100 deaths per year in the UK) "

          So, what is it - excess radon levels in Devon that kill or not?

          The point - which you seem to be having problems grasping - is that in the areas of the country that have some of the HIGHEST radon levels - therefore extra radiation exposure - don't show any excess of deaths due to lung cancer compared to the rest of the country.

          Which leads to a conclusion. The extra radiation doesn't kill anyone. The claimed relationship between (low) doses and cancer incident has failed to manifest itself.

          So, if the extra radiation doesn't kill anyone - why assume that LOWER levels of radiation in the rest of the UK are killing anyone?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            rable rable rable

            Still working hard on that straw man.

  138. DJ

    What are all those silly people doing there?

    Sir Lewis Page has declared the area safe and under control.

    You lads in the funny costumes head on home...

  139. steve 124

    @mrs. doubtfire (since you were anonymous)

    LOL, called me a muppet. I so love Brits. Anyways, if you think the food chain doesn't go full circle from top to bottom in the ocean then you've got another thing coming. It looks like (at least from the media coverage) that this thing is winding down somewhat (except for extremely contaminated run-off water going into the Japanese harbor, of course). The point of my post is (and England should realize this as much as Japan) that no one is an island in todays world and things countries do (particularly nuclear things) have effects for everyone. My country (USA) is as guilty as the rest, I'm willing to bet pre-atomic cancer rates (if indeed they tracked such things pre-wwII) were significantly lower world-wide than they are today (after the atomic club countries detonated over 2050 atomic weapons both below and above ground). I'm sure bananas weren't radioactive in the 1800s but I guess it's all a matter of how much contamination you're willing to live with. Apparently you don't mind a little plutonium in your fish fillets.

    1. Highlander

      Regarding Pre-atomic cancer rates

      That's impossible to say really. There are however several problems with your theory.

      1) life expectancy was lower in all those pre-atomic centuries.

      2) cancer awareness has increased exponentially in the last 50-75 years

      3) medicine's ability to detect and treat cancer has increased exponentially over the last 50-75 years, and we have learned that there are many potential causes of cancer from radiation, to UV exposure to chemical exposure of some kind.

      You'd have to be able to normalize the data to account for increased awareness by patients, better detection and earlier testing, and you'd also have to find a cancer that you could specifically isolate as only being caused by radiation.

      This is why you can use the statistics surrounding cancer rates among certain populations to pretty much prove any point you wish to. the truth is that it's very difficult to tie many (if any) cancer deaths directly to any specific cause without a thoroughly documented case study of the cancer, and the potential causes and the patient's exposure to the potential causes.

      1. jimmy

        i'm a dr

        and this chap or chapess is talking out of his bottom.

        it is widely accepted that dr shipman killed several hundred people. impossible to prove in the sense you guys are talking about but accepted by the greater establishment based on population studies only.

        you see it's all down to stats, expose radiation to enough people no matter what the level and you will cause 'cancer'. Even chest xrays cause cancer just because we do so many of them. so yes in my opinion this incident will cause cancer and perhaps death but who exactly is affected it will be impossible to tell before or after they have been diagnosed in the majority of cases.

        The numbers will be low and as the article suggests distracts from the real disaster from the tsunami itself.

        I think the point with these reactors going tits up is that they are going to cost a lot to clear up and are going to be there for a very long time. i've read somewhere recently the land around chernobyl will be uninhabital for at least 600 years. so for a 1 in a 1000 year tsunami it kind of proves that building reactors near earthquake zones is not a good idea since the clearup will take as long as the time between these tsunamis

        but hey for a 5 year termed government i suspect this line of reasoning is disregarded ie it most likely won't be their problem if an incident does occur.

        some other quick points:

        this mr lewis blokes article i feel is a bit of tosh in places, it's made me return for rereads though so el reg's advertisers must be happy but i think publishing this isn't good for el reg's journalistic reputation.

        those adverse to stats (me included) have to accept its use as quantum physics (eg fissile radioactive processes) relies totally on stats hence the use of half lives to describe radioactive decay.

        i'm broadly in favour of nuclear power given the current options.

  140. Beachrider

    GFL on this...

    Too much of the article is the writer's OPINION. It could be right and it could be wrong. Anecdotal facts about dosage levels don't agree with NYT accounting. Impact of those dosage-levels is heavily salted with OPINION.

    So long as people are cautious and follow official guidelines and warnings, then this kind of piece is harmless and can counterbalance the too-worried. If this is used to ignore official information, then this piece is irresponsible. It is not the first such piece on this website.

    There are key things that are still not under control. People can inflate or ignore them as part of their free will. When all of the fissionable materials are under 'normal' procedures, then I will stop making it a priority to read about it. We are WEEKS away from that, at best.

  141. D Cliffe

    Dick Cliffe

    It seems likely that the writer of article is going to wish he never wrote it . It seems likely now that the core of one or more of the reactors burnt through the containment vessel spreading fiercely radioactive material into the environment. Nobody is going to living near this reactor site for a generation or two.

    The plutonium refered to comes from the fuel in No 3 reactor which is a mixture of uranium and plutonium - it has clearly got out of the reactor - ummmm nice!

    1. Andydaws
      Thumb Down

      Another hysteric

      "It seems likely now that the core of one or more of the reactors burnt through the containment vessel spreading fiercely radioactive material into the environment."


      so, how come all of the reactor vessels have held positive pressure of up to six atmospheres since the accident? It's hard to do that, when a hole's been melted through the bottom.

      This is a lovely example of the hard done when the more idiotic press coverage falls into the hands of the "hard of thinking".

      BTE, there are a few things also to consider.

      1 - there have been no actinides detected in the building basements, nor at the perimeter monitoring stations, nor at the stations in and around the exclusion zone

      2 - According to WNN, the reason that it's assumed that the identified sample (I'll crunch the numbers to work out how big it is) comes from fuel, rather than being bomb-test residue is it's high in Pu238. Pu238 exists in bomb residues, but it's not common. It wasn't found in three of the five samples, but was in two. Now, unlike other Plutonium isotopes, Pu238 has a shortish half-life - 87 years. But, the Pu that goes into MOX fuel will have typically left the reactor 40 years or so earlier (it's good to give fuel rods time to cool, and shorter lived products to decay). So, although it's got quite a lot of Pu238, it's lower than you'd see in ordinary fuel just out of a reactor. If it is from within the plant, it's at least as likely to be from the fuel ponds as the reactor, and if anything more likely.

      The jury's out on the origin, As I said, I'll do the numbers, but I suspect the assay is working at the limits of detectability. The absence of other finds makes me doubt gross fuel failure, and certainly MOX Fuel failure.

  142. Anonymous Coward


    Laugh this off as a minor incident not worthy of Chernobyl

    What do you do when several tonnes of liquid plutonium decides to melt through and burn its way down underneath your superbly engineered containment vessel?.

    1. Andydaws

      Now, you'd think from that that the expert quoted

      had access to data about the plant. He doesn't. He also seems to have left GE 35 years ago.

      He's (Richar Lahey) is now best known for being associated with "bubble fusion", a variation on cold fusion - and one where his co-author on the paper he produced has subsequently been suspended for academic fraud. He also seems to be a bit of a serial self-publicist

      That's a lovely example of the Telegraph's approach on this story - it's been as hysterical as any red-top.

      When I last looked, at 7 this morning, NISA, the Japanese HSE, was reporting that the containment was maintaining a negative pressure relative to atmosphere, and that reactor temperatures were around the 100-120C mark. No termperature or pressure spikes. It's be interesting to see, given that, what are the reasons for claimoing an RPV breach

  143. Anonymous Coward

    I often fail to panic in the most ordinary of circumstances.

    Sorry Lewis, not sure if you are joking or not . . . but this really is dreadful.


    "What the nuclear industry tell you is never the truth, merely a preparatory base for telling you something worse, which is never, ever the truth, and only a summary avoiding the very worst points".

    This was a Level 7 on the Saturday it first went pop, containment failed in more than one unit and PRV, and TEPCO now no longer know the state of any of the key components.

    They had seriously overloaded the Unit 4 Pool and have used dodgy "dry storage" as an unapproved, un-regulated hiding place. Even the UK's "Coffin-dodging" old fogey Inspectors would have blanched at that !

    Instead, the Japanese inspectors get new cars every 6 months . . .

    Welcome to my world . . .

    The way the Operators run these sites, you'd think they are trying to make the world glow independent of provision of AC . . .

    and they own the civil servants in each countries government intended to watch and audit their activities . . . especially in the UK.

    Couldn't happen here ? Where does Gordon Brown's brother work ?

    Maybe the citizens of Japan can one day reflect on whether they would rather have traded a few hours without air-con each day and a change to working hours (to make best use of daylight) in exchange for less of this mess . . .

    Still Fusion is the perfect Baby Boomer Gift to the rest of us - short-term, badly thought-through, very expensive - for future generations, ultimately very dirty, and the pollution is most likely to kill children and young adults . . . thanks !

    Good Luck everybody, go buy your own Iodine tablets before you have to queue for them . . .

  144. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tell ya what....

    When I see these people who are all saying nothing is wrong and radation is 'good' for you are splashing around in the sea next to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant then I 'may' start to believe its alright.

  145. This post has been deleted by its author

  146. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Get your napkin ready sir.

    Whatever the state of the containment and other key components in each of the reactors, there seem to be some inescapable truths here. There is quite a lot of high level radiation which is not contained in any protective system as a result of this accident. Some of that may be plutonium, much of it is certainly iodine. Significant quantities, at least of the latter, have reached the sea.

    I don't know just how this is going to go from here, and it may get no worse that it is now. Even in that best case scenario I cannot see, but the author is merely waiting for the day he is forced to eat a considerable portion of humble pie.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That's the fun thing about iodine

      It's gone faster than dioxine or PCB. And doesn't move up the food chain a lot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Iodine clarification

        Apologies for my loose use of language. What I was refering to is iodine as an indicator material which shows there is a transfer of material from a region containing fision products to the the sea. Whilst iodine 131 has a half life of about 8 days, its presence gives rise to concern that other longer lived or more toxic materials may be leaking along with the iodine. Plutonium, for instance, is highly radioactive, but even more dangerous because of its toxicity. If it were leaking along with the iodine that would be a concern of far greater severity.

        My reference as to where it goes from here was to the situation, not the iodine. Since then, the leak from the containment to the sea has been pretty much confirmed, so I would assert the situation has been confirmed as worse than was the case at the time of my previous post.

        I really do not think this is a dead horse by any means. There is still a lot to play out in Fukishima and I suspect there will be many significant hurdles to clear in the coming weeks and months.

  147. Anonymous Coward

    George Monbiot supports nuclear power on NPR

    Our leading enviromentalists George Monbiot supports nuclear power even after "Japan" and says coal power kills more.

    Need to have a drink now and think about the implications of this

    Listen to it by searching "NPR Environmentalist Monbiot Supports Nuclear Power" if you don't believe me.

  148. Tom 7

    Scaredy Cat

    Lewis - too scared to open up your latest wish list to comments?

    Amazing how those weapons test managed to put plutonium under the nukes in Japan.

    Just sell you shares and relax.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Scaredy Cat

      Sorry to disappoint you, but it's a site glitch. Lewis is always happy for people to yell at him. And if you don't believe me, well, enjoy your warm conspiracy fuzzy.

      You can always email, although that does mean that you don't have the whole internet looking at you.

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