back to article IAEA: Handling of Fukushima has been exemplary

A preliminary report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has stated that the response to the Fukushima nuclear incident was "exemplary" and that nobody has been harmed by radiation exposure resulting from it. The report was drafted by an IAEA fact-finding team which has just completed a visit to Japan. The team was …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Yes Lewis, of course Lewis.

    No mention from you or the IAEA of Tepcos lies (repeats of their past behaviour) about what they do or don't know about the state of the reactors.

    No apology from you for repeatedly claiming that all was well when we had substantial signs that the opposite was true, and e.g. you have in fact now been forced to admit that melting of fuel did occur quite early on (because TEPCO and the IAEA said it did).

    No mention of the economic impact of the cleanup (TEPCO bankrupt, taxpayers to pay?).


    You should hang your head in shame.

    For someone who purports to be pro-nuclear, the grain of truth in your writings here (it has not been a radiological disaster although you do your best to ignore the plain evidence that it has been a financial one) have done the industry no favours at all.

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      @AC 12:13

      You should go back to your Daily Wail !

      Clearly you are one of the rabid "nuclear is bad and no amount of evidence will convince me otherwise" brigade. You've read into Lewis's articles things that I don't recall reading. I don't recall hearing that all was well, and I do recall there being considerable speculation that fuel had melted. It would appear that pointing out that The China Syndrome was fiction is somehow denying the truth - at least that's how your rantings come across.

      The FACTS, acknowledged by IAEA, are that :

      No-one was killed or seriously hurt by anything directly related to the reactors - nor is anyone likely to be.

      Whilst fuel did melt, it was contained in the reactors as designed to be.

      Whilst there were mass evacuations, they were "hard to justify on safety grounds" - in other words they were mostly to pander to idiots who will never accept that anything "nuclear" is anything but armageddon in waiting.

      There was probably far more harm caused by the forced evacuation itself that was likely by even the worst estimates of the effects to people if they didn't move.

      And all this where something in the order of 15,000 to 20,000 people were killed or are missing after an incredibly large tsunami caused by an incredibly large earthquake.

      And after all that I call hypocrite.

      The fact that you are reading stuff on the internet, and commenting on it, means that you too are using nuclear power. Unless you are off-grid, then some of your electricity comes from nuclear*, some of the electricity used by all the equipment needed to connect you to the internet comes from nuclear*, a chunk of the power used in making all that equipment came from nuclear*. What didn't come from nuclear will have come, in a large part, from coal (especially manufacturing in China) which spews out massive amounts of radioactive Uranium (amongst other stuff) into the atmosphere.

      * It matters not if you buy "green" electricity - that's all greenwash and the leccky you use does NOT all come from where you've been told it does.

      And finally, we (all of us) would not be here at all if it weren't for a huge, uncontrolled, unshielded nuclear reactor. Most of us cal it ... "the sun".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Simon Hobson

        Nowhere in the IAEA report did it say that the evacuations were, "hard to justify on safety grounds." That is Lewis doing his usual GCSE science level "interpretation" of the report.

        In fact, the IAEA report said, "Japan's long-term response, including the evacuation of the area around stricken reactors, has been impressive and well organized." That means that the IAEA considers the decision to evacuate was justified, and may well have saved dozens of lives from the long-term health consequences of radioactive Caesium exposure.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Let's cover this in easy to read lines:

          FACT: the IAEA report said, "Japan's long-term response, including the evacuation of the area around stricken reactors, has been impressive and well organized."

          INFERENCE: the IAEA considers the decision to evacuate was justified, and may well have saved dozens of lives from the long-term health consequences of radioactive Caesium exposure.

          RESULT: Logic fail

          No it doesn't. It means the IAEA are happy that the evacuation was executed well. They take no position (in the part you quote, at least) on whether it was necessary or not.

          Had there been a containment failure, the evacuation would definitely have been a good thing, but I haven't seen anywhere that the IAEA discussed such speculation.

      2. Highlander

        Hold on. The actual fuel did not melt, it was the metal cladding>>>

        ...the metal cladding on the fuel rods was melted, or heated beyond tolerance and ceased to hold it's shape. Either way, the fuel pellets were released from the fuel rods, but the actual fuel did *not* melt. that's why you have seen no release of fuel material to the environment.

    2. Silly Brit

      No news?

      What, you mean like the details covered in technical briefings on the IAEA website?


    3. Anonymous Coward

      There is always one...

      "No apology from you for repeatedly claiming that all was well" Lewis never claimed that all was well, he merely pointed at the ridiculous mass-media hysteria. You were clearly one of those sucked in by it all.

      "No mention of the economic impact of the cleanup" It may have escaped your notice, but there was a *massive* earthquake, one of the biggest seen in a generation followed by one of the biggest tidal waves to hit the Japanese coast. Ever. Fukushima is *economically* collateral damage in this. Yes, it's a financial cost that no doubt the Japanese could do without, just like the damaged oil refineries and other coastal chemical plants and refineries, but then they don't fit your agenda, do they?

      "You should hang your head in shame." Absolutely not, Lewis can come across a bit smug, but his reporting of this sad and sorry affair has been a beacon in a quagmire of ridiculous tin-hatter FUD.

      "For someone who purports to be pro-nuclear, the grain of truth in your writings here (it has not been a radiological disaster although you do your best to ignore the plain evidence that it has been a financial one) have done the industry no favours at all." Like I said, what about all the other coastal chemical industries? Balance mate, you lack it.

      1. lee7


        He did claim a triumph for nucear design.

        I don't know what to feel about nuclear energy, but the pro-nuclear lobby are smoking crack, IMNSHO.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      I see no problem in Lewis' reporting... he did well to present a rational case amid all the media hysteria surrounding the situation.

      I don't recall him ever stating that "all was well" - just that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as was being reported - a point which has now been proven.

      Yes, fuel melting did occur, but it wasn't a "meltdown" in the sense that most people interpret that word as containment failure, and so it was a good idea to avoid using such a word even if it was technically accurate.

      Are you referring to the economic impact of cleaning up the massive earthquake/tsunami damage? I believe the church should pay that (it was an act of God, wasn't it?).

      In contrast to that, I'm sure the nuclear cleanup will be minuscule.

  2. Paul_Murphy

    Now hopefully people can start becoming rational.

    And stop the blind panic that comes from any mention of the words 'nuclear' and 'radiation'.

    I don't suppose we have final figures on deaths/ injuries from the other areas at the time:

    Earthquake/Tsunami, coal/ oil/ gas/ traffic/ flu etc.


    1. BenR

      Well, it's not in Japan, but...

      ... there's this.

      That's four more than have died so far at Fukushima... and this was just while they were doing a cleanup!

      Icon, well, because.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Now hopefully pro nuke lobbyists will face reality

      "And stop the blind panic that comes from any mention of the words 'nuclear' and 'radiation'."


      So far the only noticeable blind panic has been the pro nuclear lobby rushing to defend their baby from a public that isn't panicking despite the best efforts of the gutter press. Rapidly *losing interest* in supporting a technology that can be cheap OR safe but not both at the same time...

      Give it up. Break ground on a new reactor now and by the time it's running even solar voltaic has a good chance of being cheaper. Time has not been kind to nuclear as alternatives drop in price while nuclear can't avoid paying for safety (or bribing their way past it as some believe).

  3. Neil Hoskins


    Four fatalities in Pembrokeshire. I bet they don't get as much publicity.

    1. bertino

      Already not main news on the BBC site.

      Now then BBC, let me rewrite this for you....

      4 people have died and several other have been critically injured after a fire and explosion at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire at 1820BST on Thursday. 1,234 people are also known to have died in Wales since the time of the incident.

  4. Ben 50
    Big Brother

    Distortion fields

    I save all Lewis's posts on Fukushima. They're funny.

  5. Wanda Lust

    Fail unsafe

    Two & half months is a long period over which to establish some facts & spin it up.

    The fundamental problem is that a nuclear reactor does not fail safe. Any fossil fuel energy source for a turbine generator immediately burns out when the fuel feed stops. Nuclear requires constant control that requires power: no power = loss of control.

    An out of control nuclear power plant is a fearful scenario.

    It was inevitable that the reactor cores experienced "meltdown" pretty much immediately, that scenario was constantly avoided in the TEPCO/Gov Japan reports. Maybe they can be excused for that as a means of fear management.

    To quote, "TEPCO has already stated that it expects to restart two of the Fukushima reactors in due course", is fine but those will be the two newer reactors somewhat separate from the destroyed units. Again, perception management.

    1. David Dawson

      Not true in new reactors

      While your statement on needing constant power to maintain cooling is true for the 40 year old reactors at fukushima, it is not something inherent in nuclear power.

      Newer reactors do not need power to maintain cooling, and so won't suffer the same issues as at fukushima.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Oil fires magically go out by themselves?

    3. Anonymous Coward

      check your facts when posting here.

      There are fail safe mechanisms for nuclear reactors. I know this as I studied nuclear physics, but a simple joe search with google would yield .You --can-- do that, right?

      on another note, the greentards throw all the guilt on nuclear power, while they actually should on their own governments for not promoting more safety and better waste management *almost all the radioactive waste could be rendered non-radioactive with a bit of research.

      mine is the one with the geiger counter in the pocket.

    4. mr.K
      Thumb Up

      Yes, fossile fuel is totally safe.

      "Any fossil fuel energy source for a turbine generator immediately burns out when the fuel feed stops."

      Yes, and it is also true for all the other operations that is required to bring the fuel to the power plant. For instance, I recall a minor incident in the Gulf of Mexico not that long ago. An oil platform caught fire and damaged the well so that it leaked oil into the ocean. I am quite sure that it immediately closed on it's own.

      1. hj

        yeahr, but no

        As far as i can remember this was not a power plant, just a "factory". Which gave me the following question - please try to be objective if willing to answer my question - What would have been the implicatiuons for the Gulf if Fukushima would have been sunk into that same site? And i am thinking both long and short term, anybody?

    5. hj

      spin it up?

      Will not say that they falsefied any reports or something like that, but it is funny to see that an organisation who first critized EPCO for being very untransparant, now says that the information and openness of all parties is so great... Typical case of `We from the nuclear lobby recommend the nuclear lobby`.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Come on, admit it.

    How many of you scanned the title and wondered why on earth a Swedish furniture firm were passing judgement over a major nuclear incident?

    I know I did....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about the truth?

    It's amazing how difficult it is to get simply pragmatic and honest reports!

    This paper from the IAEA is just as ridiculous as the worldwide anti-nuclear panic. This accident is extremely serious and nobody can tell what impact it will eventually have under the plant, especially on the waterbed, in the ocean and on the whole region. On the other hand it is obviously not the foreseen apocalypse and Californians should stop whining.

    Why can't we just get a documented report of the damage and potential risks to come. Who has seen a geological map and section with an assessment of the water contamination risk. None? Prove it.

    Who has answered in verifiable details the questions about long-term contamination in the neighboring villages, schools?

    Lastly, when will populations be considered as cerebrated adults rather than ignorant masses, especially when it comes to life & death issues.

    No, It was not exemplary. And I really hope that it will serve in the future to draft a new set of rules for a global democracy of free and responsible brains.

    1. JaimieV

      Of course, they should do that right away.

      It's far more important than ensuring that the other damage by the quake and tsunami is repaired, after all. These Japanese have no sense of priority.

    2. Luther Blissett

      The shame of impoverished paucity of expectation

      > And I really hope that it will serve in the future to draft a new set of rules for a global democracy of free and responsible brains.

      I for one would hope for nothing less than the Second Coming of the Alien Grays - which has about the same probability, but will make a much better Hollywood movie. All our utopias are belong to Them.

  8. Dibbles

    Not even a small admission of reading it wrong?

    The latest findings that the fuel rods melted pretty soon after the tsunami do seem to differ from the line at the time from one Mr L Page that nothing would happen, it would all be fine, and there would be no meaningful change in the state of the fuel.

    Y'know, it'd be easier to swallow the rest of the Page line if he'd admit to getting that part wrong, rather than using it as further 'proof' that he was right all along, and really, explosions at nuclear power stations are sufficiently boring that we should just have them one a week for fun.

    1. Highlander

      Please review the available evidence before opening your mouth.

      The fuel rod casings reached high enough temperatures to become flexible and fail - they melted. the Fuel pellets on the other hand did not melt (as far as anyone knows). The evidence that the fuel itself did not melt is actually pretty solid because there has been no measurable release of fuel from any of the reactors, only fission products.

  9. Tegne

    Maybe Ze Germans should read this...

    Before finally short-sightedly deciding to shut down all their nuclear plants.

  10. bamalam

    Lies and damned lies

    Err ... Lewis seems to forget the IAEA giving out about misleading statements from TEPCO. After the recent typhoon there is a serious risk of overflow which will further contaminate the area. There was also 100% failure of the pressure release system in each of the three reactor containment vessels causing - hardly a good result for TEPCO or any other BWR type reactor. All the Mark I reactors should be stopped immediately.

    A banjaxed nuke plant with four nuclear reactors out of commission cannot be cleaned up like a broken petrochemical plant so the costs will be horrendous and be considerably more than other parts of the cleanup operation after the tsunami.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I agree

      Loads of things failed across multiple reactors. Even so, there were no radiation related deaths. Seems clearer than ever that a severely damaged nuclear plant kills fewer people than a coal-fired power station working properly.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    so melting not significant of catastrophy anymore?

    The melting was so well contained, that it wasn't even detected until now. That means that even the melting was not as catastrophic as in the past - which is the a good thing. Don't hang on the word melting, focus on the effect - core melted but not the bottom of the reactor, everything contained! Design must have been well done, kudos.

  12. Si 1


    It would be good to have an article on Germany's sudden knee-jerk decision to dump all nuclear power in their country in the next few years. I'd like to know where they think they're going to get their energy from!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      The French...

      "It would be good to have an article on Germany's sudden knee-jerk decision to dump all nuclear power in their country in the next few years. I'd like to know where they think they're going to get their energy from!!"

      Probably from the French who product most of their leccy from NUCLEAR.

      These knee-jerk reactions are political not realistic.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: the French

        They will make a new decision in about eight years like the Swedes did.

        (I cannot blame them for that).

      2. Luther Blissett

        Future German energy sources

        Current gas supplies from Russia will increase as the Baltic connector is completed. This tho obviously raises the issue of German energy security being subject to Kremlin demands. The answer to that is an interesting one for ecotards. Germany will encourage and support shale gas extraction in Poland on a large scale. When I say large scale, I mean in sufficient quantities that Germany can then play off Russia and Poland for the cheapest gas price. Future German energy sources will effectively be secure.

        Meanwhile, here in the UK we wait to see if either the lights go out first in phased rolling black-outs, or if that scenario is precluded by the arrival of a consensus on the statistical insignificance of minor earthquakes in Blackpool.

    2. MuttonEater

      No answer != No solution. It just means the question wasn't very well presented.

      I'm sure you'd like to know a lot of things - try googling them.

      If that is too much effort for you - see my post below.

    3. Highlander

      They're only going top have redidential power two days out of seven and...

      the whole country will have rolling blackouts to compensate for the lack of electricity generated by wind/Solar/pixy dust renewable sources.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Fail safe?

    "The fundamental problem is that a nuclear reactor does not fail safe"

    Firstly remember these were old reactors - newer ones will almost certainly be far safer.

    The bigger issue is that fossil fuels are just not safe - far, far more people die mining the coal, oil etc. or from the effects of burning it than from nuclear generated power - not to mention the possible effects of the CO2 emissions!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    More nuclear please.

    Countries should be investing in more, newer, safer nuclear power stations as oil and gas surely kill far more and decomission the older, less safe nuclear power stations.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    AC 12:13 here again.

    "you are one of the rabid "nuclear is bad and no amount of evidence will convince me otherwise" brigade"

    Bad assumption, Simon. You've no idea who I am or what I know (that's why I'm an AC, right, so folk can address the message rather than the messenger). Stick to facts supported by evidence, leave the speculation to Lewis.

    "I don't recall hearing that all was well"

    It may not have had quite those words but it was certainly the impression Lewis was trying to convey. Feel free to go and re-read the stuff.

    "something in the order of 15,000 to 20,000 people were killed or are missing after an incredibly large tsunami caused by an incredibly large earthquake."

    Indeed. My sympathy goes out to all those affected, but is neither here nor there in a discussion focusing on TEPCO, IAEA, and Lewis.

    "[Lewis] did well to present a rational case amid all the media hysteria surrounding the situation."

    Yes there was lots of hysteria and lots of poor journalism. Lewis, or another more rational columnist (Moonbat in the Grauniad?) could have chosen to present a calm rational well argued case backed up by facts. Instead, Lewis did what he does best: he ranted and speculated. How does that help his chosen cause?

    "Four fatalities in Pembrokeshire. I bet they don't get as much publicity."

    Again, sympathy to those affected. Do fuel terminals (like this one or Buncefield) have as much scope for long term and wide area impact as a nuclear incident?

    There'll be real trouble when one of the Pembrokeshire LNG terminals has an incident, but even that won't have long term wide area impact, except some lights will go out till alternative energy supplies can be arranged.

    Sheep in Snowdonia still on restricted movement, because of Chernobyl. Long term wide area.

    Yes I know modern designs are different. Old ones are tried tested and er proven. New improved ones are by definition things we have little working experience of. But don't let that worry you; let that worry the people paying for and potentially affected by Olkiluoto.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Stick to facts supported by evidence, leave the speculation to Lewis."

      That's rich!

    2. wheel

      Good assumption

      "folk can address the message rather than the messenger"

      Ok. So your message makes you look like one of the rabid "nuclear is bad and no amount of evidence will convince me otherwise" brigade.

      Feel better?

      Now, to make sure you enjoy your weekend to the fullest, just take a second to reflect that the worrying caused by the hysteria about the dangers of a nuclear accident – real or projected – have been indicted as being more harmful than the radiation itself. Consider page 21 of this IAEA report on Chernobyl survivors: or the reports of vast amounts of salt and iodine tablets being bought after Fukushima: . I am sure you will agree that the stress caused to the people of Olkiluoto by those who have a strongly anti-nuclear agenda will likely be much more harmful than the risk of an accident at reactor number three, which has had many delays and budget overruns to *ensure* its safety standards.

    3. Liam Johnson


      >>but is neither here nor there in a discussion focusing on TEPCO, IAEA, and Lewis

      Actually, it is 100% of the whole point. You cannot address Fukushima without looking at what caused it. Tens of thousands of people were killed by the Tsunami, many more made homeless, huge areas contaminated with salt water and industrial chemicals. Stuff which will also need cleaning up.

      When you say "My sympathy goes out to all those affected" you sound like a hollow heartless moron. You don't really feel any sympathy, that is clear from your posts since tens of thousands of dead concern you less than the theoretical potential of some "dangerous radiation stuff happening".

      >>You've no idea who I am or what I know

      Neither am I interested.

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Hmmm, let me think...

      "Do fuel terminals (like this one or Buncefield) have as much scope for long term and wide area impact as a nuclear incident?"

      Pray do tell, what happens when an oil terminal, on a coastline, catches fire and leaks burning oil into the sea? On an ecological scale, this is MUCH worse than the limited release of short-lived radioactive isotopes which achieve rapid dilution in a marine environment. I'd urge you to read up on the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), present in oil, and generated by the uncontrolled burning of such, as well as the impact of sulphur compounds released into the environment (remember acid rain?)

      Because I can pretty much assume you won't read up on PAHs, I'll give you a few details here; These compounds accumulate in living organisms, being fat soluble, and concentrate in the food chain, reaching toxic levels in organims at the top of the food chain, such as sea-birds, fish and marine mammals. They cause serious health effects including cancer and developmental abnormalities and persist in the environment for a LOT longer than radioactive iodine and caesium.

      So in answer to your question, accidents at fuel terminals do not have the same scope and long term wide area impact as nuclear accidents, actual damage done by accidents at fuel terminals is much worse than that done by nuclear accidents. Add to that the accidents involved in the transport of raw materials to such (e.g. Torrey Canyon), some of which although happening decades ago still have a serious environmental impact, and your argument appears to hold about as much water as leaky oil tanker...

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. MuttonEater

    Oh RLY? Since when did objective journalism rely on just one source when espousing the same opinion?

    Yes - anyone who disagrees with the mainstream media’s representation of reality is obviously a leftist; or pro-Greenpeace; or a dullard.

    Fission had it's chance to replace Fossils and failed. Why? Figure it out for yourselves but here are two clues to start you off: 'money' & 'status quo'.

    Do you think that the same UN that fails to prevent the illegal wars of the USA/UK et al can be relied upon for *anything* to do with maintaining our well being?

    Do you think the mainstream media can be trusted to inform you of better energy producing alternatives despite the fact we sit on the cusp of major technological and power generating upheavals?

    This is just the tip of the iceberg - there are plenty of other viable experiments out there being discussed by professors and engineers but I'm sure the 'docile' masses on here think these are pseudo-science lies and not worthy of investigation. Because if it ain’t on 'TheReg' or the BBC then it can't be true can it?

    Ironically, part of the technology suppression effort has actually been perpetrated by the left wing eco-Nazi leaders because at their top most level their ideologies regarding the human race and population decline/control is identical to their Neo-Con/Nazi counterparts. I could quote them here all day long but what is the point when you will dismiss them as unverifiable or out of context (and also you’re too lazy to go and check they exist anyway)? Suffice to say it goes like this:

    Free energy + current industrialisation levels = bad

    4 Billion dead + poverty (for the majority) = good


    1. Svantevid


      "Bloomberg is now reporting, "Tetsuya Terasawa said the radiation levels are in line with those found after a nuclear bomb test, which disperses plutonium"


      From one of your articles.

      Now, I don't know about the rest, but I do know that the amount of plutonium found around Fukushima wasn't higher than elsewhere. And that only by checking what Pu isotope they found, it was clear it's Fukushima's Pu. Not Pu left after the worldwide nuclear bomb testing decades ago.


      So if I can immediately spot one exaggeration/fabrication, I automatically suspect the rest of the article.

  18. Bounty

    Lets be honest.

    "To date no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident."

    That statement handily dances around the people injured during the explosions caused by the out of control plant. It also ignores the guys who had radiation burns on their legs from standing in contaminated water. I am a nuclear supporter, but lets not act like nothing happend. How much did those inspectors get paid? IAEA credibility just went south in my mind.

    "four workers had been injured by the explosion"

    "eleven people were injured in the blast"

    "Three Japanese ground workers laboring to contain the nuclear reactors in Fukushima were rushed to the hospital with radiation burns"

    1. Robert Sneddon


      Some people were injured in the reactor building explosions but several people died when the actual tsunami hit the plant and a crane operator at the other Fukushima plant (Daini) died as well. As for the three workers with radiation burns on the feet and legs, the news that they were released from hospital after four days was not as prominently reported as the original event probably because "Men perfectly OK after scary radiation incident" doesn't grab the headlines.

      OTOH there is new information coming out on tests being carried out on the Fukushima first-responder workers suggests that some of them ingested or inhaled significant amounts of radioactive material during the first few days of the incident, enough to put several of them over the 250mSv annual dose limit in a few days working on the site. The small amount of information released suggests the medical authorities don't think the men's health is seriously at risk from their exposure (no cases of radiation poisoning mentioned) but it shouldn't have happened at all.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    "a huge, uncontrolled, unshielded nuclear reactor. "

    "we (all of us) would not be here at all if it weren't for a huge, uncontrolled, unshielded nuclear reactor. Most of us cal it ... "the sun"

    Fancy that. I didn't know that. Well, I did, actually, being a physics graduate and all that. I even know what Daisyworld is. I don't know how many journalists know though.

    Anyway, questions for the audience: is it a fission or fusion reactor? How far away is it? How well is it understood?

    How much harm could it do us, and how? When's the next 1859-scale coronal mass ejection due? How about another solar storm on the scale of the one that took out Quebec Hydro in 1989?

    And most importantly: could the energy supply industry make much more use of this radiation than it currently does? Most of us call it... "solar power", I don't care what Lewis calls it.

    1. Svantevid

      @ AC

      "could the energy supply industry make much more use of this radiation than it currently does?"


      Of course. Naturally, there's a small problem of using fifty different carcinogenics in solar cell production, meaning that when the first solar panels end their lifecycle we'll have to find a way to safely store/reuse a huge amount of cadmium and arsenic.

      Not to mention that solar cells are rather ineffective and the electricity produced by them is ten times as expensive.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Are there a lot of people working in nuclear-related industries here? It's like a nuclear sales convention.

    The current scenario is very different from Page's predictions at the beginning of this problem, which might explain some of the cynicism. That the various operators and regulatory authorities have a long and proven history of lying through their teeth is plainly no reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt this time.

    That said this plan, which invokes Dr. Michio Kaku - possibly the media's favorite dancing bear and ice skater of note - Is spectacular. The idea is to drill holes under Fukushima and detonate nuclear weapons under the plant, thus causing it to slide into the sea, allowing as yet imaginary submarines to retrieve the radioactive bits from the sea floor, following the unarguable logic that things are much easier to retrieve from the bottom of the sea with the use of satisfyingly expensive equipment than from dry land using existing technology.

    What could possibly go wrong? :)

    This just keeps getting better and better.

  21. johnwerneken

    Mr Magenta

    Nice to see straight forward accurate reporting and especially gratifying to see contempt plainly expressed for both the self-intersted anti-progress elite and the ordinary people who pay attention to the lies of that elite.

  22. interested_reader
    Thumb Down

    Why no mention of the radioactive cesium contamination?

    Shit like this is disingenuous:

    "To date no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident."

    What, we should expect people to develop cancer in a few weeks?


    In any event, these are facts which El Reg refuses to lay emphasis on:

    * The plant is still not under control

    * It has spewed radiation into the air, on the ground, and in the sea

    * There are still a host of unknowns as to the degree of contamination

    * Everyone near the plant has been evacuated, homes abandoned, businesses shut down

    * Agricultural exports from the area have been banned

    Instead we hear in El Reg's "reporting" on the issue that the plant not being under control is no big whoop, 'cos the super-fancy steel containment stuff is like, totally fine! And there's a website where you can see just exactly how much teensy-weensy bits of radiation have been released, shoot, less than you would get from a banana shake in Madras! And nothing is unknown except just how incredibly awesomely wonderful nuclear power is, and how extra-believable the IAEA (those known jaundiced critics of the industry) are! And the spinach and green tea from the area are like, totally super-safe, eat some and you can't even taste the difference!

    I must hand it to the Register, these horribly biased articles by two staff writers (who clearly are on the payroll of GE as well as El Reg) whose "reporting" has involved nary a single trip to any part of Japan, let alone Fukushima itself, have done a great job of herding the average El Reg reader into the nuclear corner ("well if I oppose it I must be an unwashed ignorant peasant, and heaven knows I am *not* one of those! I read, dammit!"). Well done.

    I look forward to your downvotes and acerbic comebacks questioning my IQ, the quality of my DNA ,etc. etc. etc. Meantime Fukushima is still a giant clusterfuck, bad news keeps leaking out in dribs and drabs about how it's actually much worse than a couple of stricken reactors farting rainbows and extra-fortified sunshine.

    Just address the cesium issue (the cleanup of the stuff, not your assessment that there's not enough to worry about), would you El Reg? And with a different writer, these two clowns who have been on the case thus far have managed to turn this topic into a war between El Reg and its readership: always a smart business move.

    1. henchan

      praise where it is due

      Let's separate the issues here:

      - Is nuclear power a good thing in general ? This seems to be your main concern.

      - Did the authorities in Japan manage a bad situation as well as they could have possibly done ? This was the thrust of the report from the IAEA.

      - Was Lewis's reporting predominantly accurate and better than nearly all contemporaneous reports written in English ?

      In response to the third issue, I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank Lewis for his attention to detail. On two occasions I used his articles to deal with severely distraught family members urging me to get myself and my family the hell out of Japan. One of whom was becoming sick with worry. We should not forget the hysterical nature of much the reporting going on elsewhere at that time. Lewis's reports may not have been perfect, but they were very well researched and time has shown them to be predominantly accurate. It is disingenuous to pick up on specific discrepancies without referencing the context; the general quality of reporting on this issue in all media.

      As it happens, I actually agree with @interested_reader about nuclear power in general, and have always held that the long-term costs and uncertainty around disposal to be unacceptable. But praise where it is due. The response of the Japanese authorities to this specific incident was apparently excellent and Lewis's articles were predominantly accurate.

    2. Liam Johnson


      >>I look forward to your downvotes and acerbic comebacks questioning my IQ, the quality of my DNA

      No need to bother.

      >>Meantime Fukushima is still a giant clusterfuck

      The point is, and always has been, that what ever level of disaster you want to attribute to Fukushima, the tsunami based destruction around it makes it insignificant. It really is that simple.

      You do realize that there is toxic chemical, including salt water contamination, to huge areas. These chemicals have a half-life of more than 100 billion years!!!!! . Oh noes.

  23. a_mu

    how many deaths in Chernobyl ?


    So the melt down was contained as designed.

    I think not,

    the melt down was contained because below the reactor was a big basement

    that due to a wave or two had lots of water in it.

    an interesting way to design.

    no deaths, well how many were caused by chernobyl radiation ? is it up to two now,

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Doesn't the IAEA exist to promote and monitor good practice in using nuclear fuel anyway?

    (So shouldn't IAEA be more independent?)

    While the workers are doing a great job and given that major other events happened before the melt down occurred > hope and pray that a similar event does not happen again any time soon.

  25. Charles Osborne

    Is someone proffering some investor bait here?

    "on another note, the greentards throw all the guilt on nuclear power, while they actually should on their own governments for not promoting more safety and better waste management *almost all the radioactive waste could be rendered non-radioactive with a bit of research."

    No wonder the USA abandoned the Yucca Mountain waste repository! All we need it just a bit more research....

  26. cnapan

    The internet is full of Boll**** masquerading as fact


    "the melt down was contained because below the reactor was a big basement....that due to a wave or two had lots of water in it."

    You know, it's just as easy to look up the design of the power plants at Fukushima for yourself and discover why melting fuel rods didn't make it to the outside as it is just to post made up nonsense that entered your head.

    Give it a go!

  27. interested_reader
    Paris Hilton

    Some people are more invested in arguing over the Internet than in the reality of Fukushima

    "The point is, and always has been, that what ever level of disaster you want to attribute to Fukushima, the tsunami based destruction around it makes it insignificant. It really is that simple."

    No, it really is not that simple. Houses can be rebuilt. Roads can be repaved. Power lines put back up, destroyed ships, cars, planes remanufactured.

    Salt water can be washed away with fresh water. Ingesting some salt won't give you cancer. As for saying salt has a half-life of billions of years, that doesn't even make any sense. Salt isn't radioactive.

    What do you propose to do about radioactive cesium in the ground, in the ocean, and in the water table?

    Reminder: there are no safe doses of radiation.

    I know your precious little web cartoon with the USRDA of radiation is cute and cuddly and snarkily funny, but it won't do shit for you as protection from getting cancer. Neither will writers of the Register be around to pooh-pooh the cancer diagnoses that are bound to result from the Fukushima accident in coming years (just as they did from Chernobyl).

    The reason that radiation dosage guidelines are so incredibly low for nuclear power plant workers is not because a bunch of hysterical hippies somehow conned governments worldwide into over-regulating the poor, put-upon nuclear power industry. The dosage guidelines are low because the safest dose is zero, and the stuff is ridiculously poisonous. In most cases, if you ingest radioactive isotopes, they tend to do things like hang out in your body, become part of your bones, and cause cancer.

    It astounds me that the hacks at El Reg can continue to blather on about how wonderfully fine Fukushima is when the plant is still not under control and the full extent of contamination is still unknown. Yes, unknown. In the purest, non-Rumsfeldian sense of the word.

    Paris, because even she has more shame than the paid trolls running amok in the "Science" section of El Reg.

    1. Mayhem

      No safe dose of radiation?

      Define safe.

      I mean, standing in the sun for too long gets you a nice dosage of UV radiation, and that is technically harmful. Do it often enough, and you get skin cancer. Doesn't exactly stop millions of people from lounging on beaches.

      Stand in front of a fire too long and you get cooked from the infra red radiation. Of course, most people are sensible enough to move out of the way before then.

      Or are you only worried about ionizing radiation? The big bad EVIL KILLER™.

      Frankly the caesium plume is localised to an area fairly close to the ocean. It will rapidly start to dissipate once it hits the ocean, and dilute itself pretty quickly. As we are seeing. Put in an exclusion zone for certain types of fishing for a period of time until the concentration drops enough and problem solved. Whats the likelyhood that cancer rates go up? If you started drinking the affected groundwater, yes, your risk would increase. Slightly. If you started smoking in response to the shock of being hit by an earthquake, your risk of cancer would go up significantly. People are very bad at making comparative judgements of risks. They greatly exaggerate uncommon risks, and devalue common risks.

      I also love your idea that a bit of salt can be washed away with fresh water.

      Have you ever tried to deal with salt contaminated soil? It takes quite some time for deposited salts to be flushed out even with very heavy irrigation, especially if the water table has been affected in any way. I expect it will take a while to irrigate the 470km² of countryside that was underwater, and the soil won't be very productive of food until that is done.

      But its all ok, as the salt isn't radioactive right?


    2. Liam Johnson


      >>Roads can be repaved. Power lines put back up

      Reactors decommissioned...

      >>Salt water can be washed away with fresh water.

      Actually they usually have to scrape off the topsoil otherwise the salt will affect plant growth for years to come.

      >>Salt isn't radioactive.

      I said it has a half life of more than a Billion years. That was tongue in check since most people as overly concerned about radioactive pollution taking millions of years to decay, but happy forget that non radioactive chemicals are there forever. There is a lot of other nasty stuff been spilt apart from salt, just that salt makes up a huge amount and people ignore it too because it is just salt.

      >>Reminder: there are no safe doses of radiation.

      Check out the radiation Hormesis debate and also the comments in previous post. Safe is relative. A lifetime 25mSv radiation dose produces a worst case life-time risk of death by cancer of about 0.1% using the LNT model, that is around the same cancer rate cause by eating a few slices of ham a week.*

      >>pooh-pooh the cancer diagnoses

      You have approximately 20% chance of getting cancer in your life, from sun, ciggies, alcohol or eating ham. Even the largest estimates of cancer deaths from Chernobyl are lost in the statistical noise. Some researchers claim to see a blip, others say no blip.

      >>the stuff is ridiculously poisonous

      Nope, not really. For some perspective, try Arsine, phosphine, borane or silane gases used in semiconductor manufacture.

      * I have no direct reference for this number, I estimated that based on a quote that not eating ham would save 3000 colon cancer deaths per year in the UK and various stats on cancer death rates.

  28. Ascylto


    "A fuller report will be delivered at a summit conference in Vienna ..."

    And guess which country has NO nuclear power ... why, it's Austria of course!

    And what is the capital city of Austria? ... why, it's Vienna of course!

    And where is the IAEA based? ... why, it's Vienna of course!

  29. cnapan

    "Safe dose is zero" = bollocks

    If that were the case, then large swathes of land such as the South West of England, the peak district, and most of Scotland would be quarantined on account of the high levels of background radiation in these areas.

    If that were the case, then Chernobyl's exclusion zone would not today be absolutely teeming with life.

    If that were the case, then humans wouldn't survive, as we all need potassium to survive, and it's a radioactive substance. The only reason eating bananas (naturally radioactive on account of the high level of potassium) doesn't increase your radioactivity is because the body excretes the potassium it doesn't need.

    If that were the case, then flights would be banned. Airline employees working on aircraft pick up a dose of radiation each year which puts the amount absorbed by the people near fukushima into the shade.

    If that were the case, then hospitals wouldn't use radiation to help identify and cure people of illness (with the help of x-rays, ct scans, radiation treatment for tumours and so on).

    The reality is that radiation in low levels causes *NO MEASURABLE* effect on the health of the individual. Animals and plants have natural protection mechanisms within the cell to protect against ionising radiation. It is only when these natural systems are overwhelmed that we can start to measure the effect on health of radiation.

    *Nobody* outside the power plant in Japan was at risk from radiation. The evacuation was entirely precautionary, though not without risk (some patients in a hospital died as a result of being moved)

    Coal plants emit far more radiation into the environment per unit of electricity generated, along with a load of other airborne pollutants which have a clear measurable effect on the health of people. If you were in charge of policy with your 'there is no safe dose' nonsense, we'd end up being thrown back into the stone age through lack of power generating capacity. That *would* cause huge loss of life.

    The hysteria and ignorance surrounding nuclear issues continues in the same way as conspiracy theories about 9/11, UFOs and religious belief. It's all fuelled by ignorance masquerading as 'truth'.

    Do yourself a favour and use the internet not just to look for things which affirm your preconceived ideas, but instead challenge them.

  30. bugalugs

    It seems to have escaped the notice of some

    that roughly 25% of us are going to die from cancer of some kind after our alloted spans. Only 56 years ago, two nuclear devices* were detonated over cities which were quickly re-built and stand today vibrantly populated. The near-paranoid fear-of-nuclear meme is a hangover from Cold War days when production of bomb-grade materials was a primary function of nuclear installations and privacy was very important. All viable alternatives deserve research and encouragement but nuclear can carry the baseload into a future not predicated on just burning shit till we croak. Or we get croaked. Did everyone notice the quick shell-game change of units from Sieverts ( so milli and micro ) to the much-more-scarily-numerous Becquerels as the panic/coverage proceeded ? One must ask whose interests are being affected here and who's in bed with whom ? Media and CarbonFuels ? The IEAE may be an industrial association, Lewis a propagandist and I a for-real bunny but ElReg's coverage of Fukushima, warts and all, has been a beacon of sanity in a world of MediaGoneMad®. I am ful of grate.

    Lewis keeps us up to date on all the latest mission-accomplishing black-gold liberating casualty-free collateral-damage-limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction too. Study these for the reel Feer.

    * and a whole bunch more elsewhere before and since.

    icon - vandalism and a waste of fuel

    1. bugalugs

      ^ Only 66 years ago sorry my bad


  31. interested_reader
    Thumb Down

    Bananas and salt and Chernobyl

    Bananas: potassium is not radioactive. It has a radioactive isotope that exists in miniscule quantities.

    Salt: you can ingest salt and you won't die. In fact, the body needs salt.

    Chernobyl: bizarre mutations in the "teeming" animal and plant life in the exclusion zone have been and continue to be observed, including albino birds and trees that don't know which way is up when they grow.

    Radioactive cesium is a bitch. It's all over the place around Fukushima, and the health effects will be long-term because the half-life is long-term. It doesn't "dissipate", it concentrates within the food chain, just like mercury in fish. No one has yet addressed what will be done to clean up the radioactive isotopes spewed all over the immediate area of Fukushima, particularly the longer-lived isotopes, for which there is NO SAFE DOSE to ingest into your body. If you eat radioactive cesium, you are fucked. The only question is how much, and how soon. Hopefully it is only a little and not for a long time yet. But no one knows and the reactor complex is still. Not. Under. Control.

    Essentially all that the Reg articles have said on the Fukushima boils down to these points:

    1) Well at least most of the fuel seems to have been contained!

    2) The tsunami destroyed entire towns! Why are you whining about a little radiation?

    3) Chernobyl was a bunch of shit. We could all go live there right now and nobody would grow a third arm tomorrow.

    4) Hey, background radiation exists everywhere! Bananas, airplanes, and Madras! So STFU hippies!

    5) People die in mines and fall off windmills. Chemical contamination and accidents with non-nuclear power have killed more people than nuclear power. So again, STFU hippies!

    None of this addresses the central problem with Fukushima and with nuclear power in general: so far (so far!) humanity has only dodged the bullet when it comes to nuclear catastrophe. There have been some serious messes and some serious health consequences, but so far the nightmare scenarios of toxic nuclear plumes blowing all over the world and causing instant sickness and death have been avoided. But dodging the bullet doesn't mean getting shot at is safe. Nuclear power is extremely risky, extremely dangerous, and it creates extremely toxic waste for which there is no cleanup; the only solution is to dig a deep, secure hole and hope nobody digs it back up (or it leaks out) for thousands of years.

    The Fukushima incident was not vastly worse because we are so great at designing and maintaining nuclear power plants. It was only by sheer luck or the grace of God or whatever you like to call it that the the disaster did not turn out infinitely worse.

    As it is, radioactive cesium and other isotopes are out there in the food chain and there is still no answer from anyone as to how this will be cleaned up. All the sheep can do is bleat about bananas and flight attendants and Madras. I don't see anyone flying over to Fukushima to eat the spinach or drink the green tea, though. Least of all brave Messrs. Page and Orlowski, and certainly not on their own dime. (Will the Register foot the bill to back up their trolling, I wonder?)

    1. Liam Johnson


      I really can't be bothered any more, your blinkers and earmuffs are on just too tight. But I will leave you with one little point, since you seem keen on challenging everyone to eat radioactive cesium.

      You say "Salt: you can ingest salt and you won't die." Well here is a little challenge for you - spend three weeks drinking sea water and tell us how far you get. It's not poisonous is it?

  32. interested_reader

    Japan doubles the estimate (estimate!) of radiation released at Fukushima

    For those of you keeping score at home via banana consumption, you'll need to head back to the local grocer to double your intake.


    Or check your favorite news outlet.

    The news is not going to get better about this mess; it is going to come out in dribs and drabs about how extra-fucked-up it actually was and is. Cleanup will not be trivial and I don't believe the exclusion zone is a bunch of bureaucratic BS; it is there for a good reason.

  33. tom 24

    OK, so I guess it kind of *is* a meltdown. Three, actually...

    "Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday."

    Oh well.

  34. interested_reader
    Paris Hilton

    Errr I don't follow the seawater argument. So bizarre one is not sure how to reply.

    Salt is not a poison. Salt is necessary for life. You can ingest salt and you won't die.

    Radioactive cesium is a poison. It is not necessary for life. If you ingest it, it builds up in your bones and muscle tissue and your body takes a while to flush it out; long enough that cancer is a real risk. Radioactive strontium is even worse. The body treats it like calcium and it does not flush out of your system entirely; it accumulates in the bones.

    How in hell does saying that drinking too much seawater will make humans sick somehow imply that ingesting radioactive isotopes is safe? There is no safe dose for ingesting these things. There is a safe (there is even a necessary) dose of salt, on the other hand.

    As for seawater, lots of good tasty stuff grows in it. Fish, for example. Seaweed. Shrimp. Whales, even, if you are so inclined. Hand me an oyster dripping with brackish salty water and I'll scarf it right down. Hand me an oyster grown in water contaminated with radioactive cesium and strontium and I will decline.

    Paris, because even she knows that not everything salty is bad for you.

    1. Liam Johnson


      >> I don't follow the seawater argument.

      I noticed. You are so entirely convinced that "radioactive" is more dangerous than anything else that your brain is incapable of processing anything. I will be generous and suggest a mental block.

      >>Salt is not a poison.

      Actually, like anything else, too much salt will kill you. Too much drinking water will kill you, and I don't mean drowning (eg Wii competition). Too many vitamins can kill you. Check out Hypervitaminosis A from eating the wrong type of liver. Just because a small dose is OK, doesn't mean a large dose is OK. Similarly, just because a large dose kills you doesn't mean you are harmed by a small dose at all.

      Famously summarised as “The dose makes the poison.”

      >>Radioactive cesium is a poison

      No it isn't. Caesium, radioactive or otherwise, is excreted by natural means.

      >>builds up in your bones and muscle tissue

      No it doesn't. As you said, your body flushes it out - logically it can't do both at the same time.

      >>Radioactive strontium

      I thought we were discussion Fukushima - mainly Iodine and Caesium. I couldn't find a sensible link to Strontium at Fukushima, just a load of scare sites.

      >>drinking too much seawater will make humans sick

      You miss the point. Drinking too much sea water will kill you. You will be just as exactly dead as if you had a lethal dose of radiation.

      >>There is no safe dose for ingesting these things.

      There is a safe dose for everything. That seems to be you main difficulty. Let’s try it with a few examples. I seem to remember you mentioned knowing about radioactive Potassium in bananas. This is natural potassium, nothing nasty and man made. Do you eat bananas? How about Brazil nuts? What about carrots, potatoes or meat? Your assertion that there is no safe dose would imply that you can't eat any of these things because of the K-40. What about Carbon-14, which is in everything you eat? The point is, at some level, the dose of radiation from any source needs to be considered in relation to the natural back ground. There IS a safe dose. Or more correctly there is a dose at which the risk is far lower than the combined risk from everything else in life. The safe limits for anything to do with radiation are already set extremely low. The potassium currently in your body will produce some 4000 decays per second, many of which will cause a DNA defect. That is 40,000 potential cancers you just got from reading this post. And that is just the potassium. Here’s the good bit – your cells just deal with it. They are designed to repair DNA damage and it works remarkably well. The only odd bit is that given the amount of damage your cells successfully repairs daily, that it occasionally does go wrong. Worrying about some thing less than an extra lifetime 0.1% risk, when you have a 20-30% chance of a fatal cancer anyway, seems a little odd.

      >>not everything salty is bad for you

      Exactly, because there a safe limits for everything. This concept also applies to radiation and radioactive isotopes.

  35. cnapan

    those unable to use logic fall foul of nuclear hysteria

    If you're the sort of person who considers salt to be 'safe' because it is necessary for life, then quite clearly you don't have the reasoning skills to engage usefully with a debate about nuclear safety.

    The truth about salt is that is a killer. Not only will you die rather quickly if you have large amounts of it (e.g. drink seawater), but you'll also suffer from all sorts of chronic conditions which shorten life if your diet contains slightly raised levels of the stuff.

    Now in the same way, nuclear material can either be harmless or dangerous depending on the type and severity of exposure, and the type of radioactive element involved.

    But you're already on record as making the declaration that there is no safe level of radiation - something totally disproven by the evidence - something you are quite clearly unable to deal with.

    It is precisely because you are unable to reason that you find yourself making no headway in the debate.

    If you want to influence others, I suggest you stop hiding from the facts which disprove your claims, stop making things up, and start asking yourself why you have such an emotional hatred for a form of power generation which kills fewer people each year than any other mainstream source of power generation - all without having to change the chemistry of the atmosphere in a way which most scientists agree will cause mass suffering in a few decades.

    It must be very upsetting to you that even the most devastating natural disaster pitched against a collection of 6 nuclear power plants led to the death of... absolutely nobody, even though these plants were built before I was even born. Radiation levels outside the plant areas remain stubbornly low - less than you'd experience in a holiday cottage in Newquay. (Which, I suppose, should be evacuated as it is 'unsafe')

    I also find it quite sickening that you downplay the destructive consequences of the tsunami in order to try to clear the decks for your non-existent nuclear armaggedon scenario. Tens of thousands of people were actually killed, injured or made homeless, and countless hectares of land will be out of production for a significant period due to plain old 'safe' salt water.

  36. interested_reader
    Thumb Down

    "Led to the death of absolutely nobody" is not really a high standard

    Saying that the Fukushima mess hasn't killed anyone (yet) doesn't really make for a ringing recommendation for nuclear power, in my view. The stuff that is spewed all over the ground and in the water is stuff that gives people cancer over the long term... so it's kind of disingenuous to say that nobody has any signs of cancer yet, so A+ for the Fukushima disaster!

    Salt is not "a killer". Anything in excess can be harmful (even too much plain old water can be harmful)... that is not the same as something which, in and of itself, is a poison. Radioactive isotopes are poisonous. If you get them inside your body, the only question is how soon can your body flush out the poison before it does too much irreversible damage. In some cases the body cannot flush the poison out fast enough (cesium), in others, not ever (strontium).

    Saying salt is a killer and windmills "kill" people proves what exactly? Salt, taken in moderation, is healthy. Windmills, constructed safely and serviced carefully and safely, don't kill anyone. It is a bit of logical sleight of hand to claim that non-nuclear power "kills" people.

    My point remains the same. The risk associated with nuclear power generation is too high. It has to be handled nearly perfectly from cradle to grave, whether you are looking at the fuel, the construction of and failsafes built into the plants, the waste, etc. etc. etc. It's a chain where every link is critical and cannot be broken. Witness the case at Fukushima. The earthquake also caused an oil storage depot to blow up in Chiba; it's not still burning and spewing oil all over the place. Fukushima, on the other hand, is still not under control and the full extent of its contamination of the environment is unknown.

    As for the ad hominem attacks claiming I have some sort of emotional hatred of nuclear power, or want to downplay the tsunami, etc.... really? Because I refuse to go along with this preposterous nonsense masquerading as journalism in the Reg pages, and I am willing to call out El Reg on what I consider to be bad reporting, somehow I must be an evil or sad or pathetic or ignorant "sort of person"? Errr... no.

    Further to the point of downplaying the tsunami: the triumphalism evidenced in the articles the Reg has published on this topic downplays the consequences of this disaster, in my view. People can't go to their homes or jobs and farmers can't farm, etc. but Messrs. Orlowski and Page would have us believe this is all some sort of bureaucratic boondoggle and the poor misguided slobs in the Japanese government are just trying to cover their asses.

    Similarly, they dismiss any discussion of the aftereffects of Chernobyl (wildlife mutations, cancer in the surrounding human population) as overblown nonsense... we are not talking about UFO articles on Pravda here. There are reputable scientists who can back up their claims that yes, Chernobyl had an effect on people's health, and yes, Fukushima is a huge clusterfuck that by no means vindicates the safety procedures of either that particular plant or the whole industry.

    I can't help but wonder why the Register, normally a bastion of skepticism and of not toeing the party line (whatever the party), has suddenly taken it upon itself to claim loudly and repeatedly that Fukushima is not a disaster and was handled just fine. Meantime, the news reports keep coming out that more of this or that poisonous isotope was released than initially estimated, the exclusion zone is not going away, and the plant is not going to be under control any time soon.

    If the plant was back up and running right now, and the most contamination that leaked was some stuff with a brief half-life, and there was no exclusion zone... then I might buy into pronouncements declaring we should build more Fukushimas, and I might snicker at the "mummy mummy there's a nuclear monster" asides as well.

    But that is not where we are and the Reg is ignoring reportage and data that undermine its editorial position that nuclear power is just fine and dandy. These are all opinion pieces, not factual reporting.

    1. Liam Johnson


      >>the death of absolutely nobody" is not really a high standard

      Good God, what in heavens name would you consider a high standard! The mind really does boggle at that one.

      >>nobody has any signs of cancer yet

      And 20 years from now, you will have an extremely hard time locating the additional cancer cases from the general background rate of 20-30%. They will definitely be less than 0.1% extra. The large number of extra deaths attributed to Chernobyl in some studies are only a result of the large populations involved, even the biggest of these is less than 0.1%. The argument rage because even at these levels, it is hard to impossible to really see a trend against a 20-30% background, especially when increased alcoholism in post soviet years has increased the death rate anyway. Let us go for an impossible worst case scenario. 80,000 people live in the exclusion zone and a statistically significant 1% get cancer over the next 20 years. That is 800 people. That is at least a factor 10 to high, and is likely to be even less. Even 800 is still small compared ~20,000 dead immediately from the tsunami, not considering long term effects.

      >>Salt is not "a killer"

      >>Something which in and of itself, is a poison

      This is a basic principal, there is no such thing as "a poison", there is only a dose which is poisonous.

      >>oil storage depot to blow up in Chiba; it's not still burning and spewing oil all over the place

      But they haven't finished cleaning that up either. And you also have to consider the scale - Chiba went up with on big bang dispersing tonnes of toxins.

      >>ad hominem attacks...or want to downplay the tsunami, etc.... really?

      Yes, really. Constantly banging on about caesium when that is not any way the main problem is downplaying the tsunami. You can claim all you want that you don't mean it, but it is not what you keep saying.

      >>I must be an evil or sad or pathetic or ignorant "sort of person"? Errr... no.

      Your failure to grasp the simplest of facts, however often repeated is quite astounding. You still haven't understood the discussion on salt.

      >>Further to the point of downplaying the tsunami

      You lost me there; You start talking about those made homeless by the physical reality of the tsunami and then move on to complain about bearcats evacuating around Fukushima.

      For the record, 500,000 were made homeless by the tsunami, 80,000 by the exclusion zone. See how the tsunami is still the worst offender.

      >>dismiss any discussion of the aftereffects of Chernobyl

      No, they simply pointed out that it is not as bad as most people think. Most studies show the animals doing fine in the exclusion zone. Cancer rates in humans are not (or barely) measurably higher than normal. There are some areas close to the plant which got huge dose, and you can see problems there (red forest). Just be careful not assume that the whole area is like that.

      >>There are reputable scientists who can back up their claims that yes, Chernobyl had an effect on people's health

      Yet other reputable scientists are currently investigation why the cancer rates due to Chernobyl are LOWER than expected. There are also studies showing that the stress of the "radiation fear" was actually more deadly than the radiation itself.

      >>Fukushima is a huge clusterfuck

      Again, I am left wondering how you would describe an accident where thousands died. Try for instance the Halifax Explosion or Bhopal, in the latter case noting the ill health effects by non radioactive chemicals. Sure, things went wrong at Fukushima, but what you need to desperately get is a sense of perspective.

  37. hj

    May i suggest

    That, now it is clear that any report from a `lobbyist group` is used as proof for one´s own theory/opinion, that you change your tag line from `Biting the hand that feeds IT ` to `Getting nourished by the dick it sucks`?

    From the IAEA site; `The IAEA's mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States`

    (Although probably only for conspiry theorists nice detail; the current boss of the IAEA is... Japanese!)

  38. interested_reader
    Thumb Down

    "Safe limits for everything. This concept also applies to radiation and radioactive isotopes."

    Um, no. You are confusing overdose with safe limit.

    Food is something your body needs to survive. It's possible to overdose on one particular kind of food and thus harm your body (e.g. salt) but in general, food is not poison. You can overdose on water but you can't live without it.

    Poison is something that harms your body. Your body doesn't need it and you can live quite happily without it. It might tolerate some level of insult from the poison, or it might not. The effects could be immediate or they could be delayed (cancer).

    Salt is food.

    Radioactive isotopes are poison.

    Arguing that nuclear power is A-OK because human cells are "designed to repair DNA damage" doesn't make any sense. It's like saying that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is A-OK because nature has equipped you with a skull.

    Arguing that death by salt overdose is just as bad as death by radiation poisoning, therefore nuclear power is A-OK makes no sense either. I can't think of an analogy to point out the absurdity of this argument... it's already extremely absurd in its own right.

    As long as nuclear power is used, there is always a risk of catastrophic failure of containment systems. Containment systems at Fukushima failed and there is definitely radioactive cesium in the environment and very probably a number of other long-lived isotopes. In the ocean, this does not magically go away any more than it does on land. It accumulates in the food chain.

    The more Chernobyls and Fukushimas occur, the more the planetary ecosystem gets polluted with radiation. Saying that so far the pollution in some places is sometimes the same as background radiation in such and such other place doesn't mean anything. It's like saying a pile of garbage that keeps growing is no problem because it isn't yet as big as a mountain of trash. Why not just stop piling up the garbage?

  39. Liam Johnson


    >>Radioactive isotopes are poison

    Will you please stop saying that. No chemical is "poison". There are only doses which are poisonous. This really is not very hard, and it is rather crucial to understanding the point.

    >>Arguing that nuclear power is A-OK because human cells are "designed to repair DNA damage" doesn't make any sense

    It doesn't make sense to you because it is not what I said. I was talking about your notion of "no safe dose", see it even quoted you in my post. But your lack of ability to read and comprehend is truly frightening.

    >>Arguing that death by salt overdose [makes] nuclear power is A-OK makes no sense either

    Again, because you can't read or comprehend. At no point did I make such an argument.

    >>As long as nuclear power is used, there is always a risk of catastrophic failure

    That argument applies to any technology. It is always a matter of risk and return.

    >>In the ocean

    That has got to be one of the stupidest things you have said yet. Please Google ocean, check out the size, wow is it big. Then check out how many tonnes or radioactive material are in there already.

    >>Saying that ... the same as background radiation ... doesn't mean anything

    I would prefer that neither Chernobyl nor Fukushima had happened, but I don't see the point in running scared about a level or radiation which is the same range as natural background levels. You don't run around with a dosimeter and check every building before entering. Why the extra concern in this case? Nuclear testing in the 50s and 60s involved tonnes of bombs world wide. These only increased the average background radiation by 7%. In 2000, that had dropped back down to 0.25% of background. Just for a little perspective on your "the planetary ecosystem gets polluted with radiation" comment. And before you start with “A-OK arguments” again, please try and realise that quoting these facts and figures is not an endorsement for scrapping the test ban treaty. It is merely trying to put your fears into some sort of perspective.

    >>Why not just stop piling up the garbage?

    Ah, a philosophical argument. Actually, I am not a rapid proponent of nuclear power, but unlike you, I am prepared to read and understand and consider the risks and benefits. You are a hopeless case, so completely confused by your own fear that you cannot think straight. Nuclear power produces LESS toxic waste simply because of the density of power produced.

  40. cnapan

    @interested reader

    What precautions do you take to avoid ionising radiation in your life?

  41. tom 24

    Melt-through, anyone?

    So maybe, possibly, there might be a melt-through. Sounds like they're trying not to give us the bad news all at once.

    Fukushima is still a good example of how good engineering not only attempts to minimize the chance of failure, but also set up failure modes to mitigate the effects of worst-case scenarios. As events unfold, it is also becoming a reminder of what is at risk.

    There are three parts to risk management: 1) the odds, 2) what you have to gain, and 3) what you risk losing. The problem with nuclear power is not 1 or 2, it's 3. If I wasn't addicted to cheap, plentiful electricity, I'd probably be against it...

  42. Anonymous Coward

    risk management

    "There are three parts to risk management: 1) the odds"

    Indeed so.

    Part of calculating the odds is looking at what failures are possible, and the chances of them happening. Another part of that analysis is looking at the chances of multiple failures. When failures are independent, the total probability is the result of multiplying the individual probabilities, ie it gets smaller as more failure modes are considered, as you might intuitively expect.

    When failures aren't independent but cascade consequentially, the probabilities don't multiply, you get basically what you started with. "Failure mode effects analysis (FMEA)" or "fault tree analysis" is the generic term for this kind of analysis. People working in industries where safety is important should be familiar with the terms and the concepts.

    An example.

    The probability of a tsunami going over the wall is 10% in forty years.

    The probability of an incoming grid failure is 10% in a year (say).

    The probability of a backup generator failure is 10% in a year (say).

    Assume those are independent, that the station survives intact unless all three happens, and multiply all that lot together and arguably it looks reasonably safe, considering the benefits.

    But they are not independent. If you get a tsunami big enough to go over the wall, your backup generator is inevitably dead [1] (because the station design didn't plan for this) and the chances of the incoming grid being dead might as well be 100% too. So all three inevitably happen and the station is inevitably in trouble once the first one happened. So is the rest of the country, which is really quite sad, but that is not directly relevant to a discussion on nuclear safety.

    Same as the chances of an aircraft impact on a nuclear power station are no longer the low statistical probability of a random aircraft crashing randomly on a random nuclear station; post 9/11 they are now the inevitable certainty that sooner or later someone will plan such a thing and maybe if they are lucky they will get to do it.

    Oddly enough, the UK has recently decided that the possibility of, and resistance to, aircraft impact no longer need to be considered as part of the safety case for building a nuclear power station (and unfortunately the EU regulators appear to have been convinced too?).

    Still, the nuclear industry and its lobbyists would never lie to us or conceal inconvenient facts or introduce blatant distractions would they, so it must be OK.

    [1] TEPCO hadn't been performing the statutorily required checks on the backup generator so it may not even have needed a three-event cascade to cause the Fukushima consequences. If the backup had an undetected fault it would only have needed a failure of the incoming grid to cause the cooling system to fail. Think about that for a few moments before you inevitably downvote this.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Never give up never surrender

    I was missing Lewis Page's "pieces" on Fukushima.

    In the meantime here in Japan, 1 million people demonstrated against nuclear. It's a huge number, considering that, culturally, the Japanese hardly ever demonstrate about anything.

    Japanese are not happy at all with the deal they got. Yes, maybe nobody has had the chance to develop a cancer yet, and I hope it stays that way.. but the disruption that this caused is enormous.

    The quake was a big scare in Tokyo as well.. but it came and went. Now we have to worry about what we eat and what water we drink. There is enough bottled water, but it runs out quickly. Sometimes you are only left with a 2L bottle of water for 600 yen (~$7). Even some Korean water has appeared in the stores.

    Is it all just fear ? Really ? Near Fukushima the levels are constantly raised so that kids are "safe again" to play outside the school. What was dangerous yesterday, suddenly becomes safe today.

    Of course many parents protest about this, but scolding politicians that try to reduce the perception of danger only gets you so far.. the risk is still there and you either take it for your children or move your life somewhere else ..easier said than done, especially for entire families.

    You can color this disaster as pink as you want.. it all started with a rushed article: "no damage done, I love nuclear!".. but the news are worse and worse every day and The Register keeps pretending that it's all fine.

    We went from "nothing to see here kids" to admission of much worse radioactive spills than first imagined and now a melt-though.

    If you want to risk to live the same situation.. go ahead. In the mean time I know for sure that nuclear power (as in nuclear fission) is all but dead in Japan.. it's not about being easily scared, it's about being there and not wanting to risk living in the same situation again.

    1. edmundedgar

      1 million people in Japan did not demonstrate against nuclear.

      The "one million" number was what the organizers were hoping for, not what they actually got.

      They reported the numbers at the biggest demo in Tokyo at 20,000. Nationwide, there's no way they got anything remotely like a million.

      On the bottled water thing, go ahead and drink tap water, it's fine. If you insist on bottled water, I don't know where you're shopping, but go somewhere else. There's loads. If you want it cheap, try Costco.

  44. interested_reader

    There's no melt-through, have another banana, book a flight to Madras

    And stop downplaying the destructive consequences of the tsunami in order to try to clear the decks for your non-existent nuclear armaggedon scenario.


    So sayeth the folk tarring and feathering anyone with the temerity to speak up against nuclear power. Geniuses and sage prognosticators they are, all of whom of course are nuclear power plant engineers who just happened to stop by El Reg to set the record straight for poor souls such as the fellow above living in Japan on $7 bottled water thanks to his woefully misinformed notions as to what actually constitutes a nuclear power plant crisis. Nobody has got cancer yet, what is he complaining about anyway? 15 people fell off windmills in the time it took to read this post. And did any people fell off a nuclear power plant? That's right, didn't think so. Now eat your radioactive cesium, a little radiation does a body good!

    P.S. "What precautions do you take against radiation in your daily life" as some kind of witty riposte to a thumbs down on Fukushima is like inquiring "soooo... what do you do to avoid inhaling second hand smoke anyway" of someone pointing out a massive forest fire up the hill.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Logic minds

      In this whole mess, you'll find any amount of scientists and engineers that will tell you something and then it's opposite, depending on which bias they are inclined or ordered to take.

      I'm sure that there are plenty of experts and expert-wannabe that will defend nuclear power to their grave.

      I suspect that some of the readers here are stuck with a sense of superiority towards the "common people".

      Well, sometimes common sense is actually a good thing.. you don't need to be a scientist to see the trouble that a whole country is going through because of _1_ power plant.

      Yes, there was a huge quake and a tsunami, and that's still in the news in Japan, but the worry for that is over now.

      So, we can argue and speculate to no end, while trying to predict future cancer rate, or simply pretend that it's all just a walk in the park.. but the point is that people that are living this situation are very eager to get rid of nuclear power now.. and it's all that matters.. because it's the voice of the people that are paying the consequences.. be that mass evacuations, economic downturn or worrying for future health effects.

      Incidentally, there have been recent cases of tea leaves officially deemed too radioactive for consumption, found in fields all the way in Chiba and Kanagawa (outside Fukushima and much closer to Tokyo).

      ..of that, make what you will.

      1. Gerald

        Tea leaves radioactive?

        Oh no. Just horrible. And diluting them with hot water? That'll just release all that radiation goodness!

        BTW, I'll take a collection to go to Tokyo, tyvm. Consider any level of radiation thus far given have been less than the beaches of Brazil, I'm pretty certain I'll be OK.

        And what if I'm not? It's not like you'll care. OTOH, what's the radiation level like where you live? Do you even know?

  45. interested_reader

    Here's a "sensible" link to strontium contamination

    But I'm sure the wise felows downvoting my posts and lambasting me with ad hominem attacks will be quite happy to blow it off. Particularly since no-one has developed any bone cancer in the last two weeks, it's of no concern.

    Normally the Register would be the first to seize upon these little revisions to prior estimates ("Whoops turns out twice as much nasty leaked out as we first told you") and bits of bad news leaked out in dribs and drabs ("Oh you mean *radioactive* strontium? Sure, there's a bit about") as evidence that perhaps not all is as rosy over there by the exploded out-of-control nuclear power plant in the middle of an evacuation zone as the bureaucrats would have us believe.

    Instead the Register keeps stubbornly insisting that because no one was flash-fried in the Fukushima debacle, all is hunky-dory, not only with that particular plant, but with nuclear power in general.

    It's disappointing. Not only do these ridiculous nuclear cheerleading articles damage the credibility of Page & Orlowski, they damage the credibility of the Register. And pillorying readers who dare to question nuclear power as a safe way to generate electricity, mocking them as anti-Jetsons (whatever the fuck that is supposed to signify), etc. only makes the Register appear all the more petty and small.

    It would have served the Register better to keep the Fukushima reporting balanced and factual, and leave the editorializing till at least the plant was brought back under control. Right now too many facts are still unknown.

    We do keep seeing articles with revised contamination estimates and "oh by the way" mentions of additional repercussions not discussed previously. Given that it's going to be a good long while before Fukushima is back under control and the evacuation zone lifted, it is extremely poor form (as opposed to the Register's usual brand of witty cheekiness) to go rambling on about how the whole thing is a trumped up scare designed by hippies to put the poor little put-upon innocent nuclear power industry out of business.

    1. Gerald

      I'm a cheerleader

      Why? Because of all the ways electricity is generated, nuclear has killed the least number of people.

      Because people have used salt to destroy fields of rivals. (google it. It's a known way to kill the farm growth productivity of your enemies.)

      Because there are people who happily live productive, healthy lives with background radiation 4-5 times as much as the worst background radiation present in Japan.

      Because in output per square foot, there is no more productive way to provide large amounts of electricity.

      Because contamination estimates are only numbers. They're scary to you because they're somehow big, but if they don't cause illness or death, they're just numbers.

      Because nobody was flash-fried, it's all hunky-dory. Yes, *I* will say it. I'll stand by it, too.

      All I ask from you is to quantify what you're upset about. Tell me how many people must die, be injured, etc. from nuclear for you to consider it unsafe. Tell me how to be able to count that number. Don't tell me about contamination. It doesn't matter if it's high, if nobody dies or gets sick.

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