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View Diary: Nuke Workers Rush to Gain Control as Winds Shift Towards Tokyo (58 comments)

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  •  How much is "higher than normal?" (5+ / 0-)

    An acceptable unit would be picocuries/kg, something like that.

    I provided some numbers, using those units, in a diary I wrote here:   Post-Chernobyl Radionuclide Distributions in an Austrian Cow.

    In that diary, the units I chose (actually bigger than pCi/kg) was Beq/kg.

    I showed that the Austrian cow's radioactivity from cesium-137 - accumulated over 6 years of Chernobyl contaminated grass, was about double the naturally occuring potassium-40 background.

    My diary also provided a referenced assessment of something called "risk," which is notably missing in all these panic sessions about the wind in Tokyo, each one more disingenuous than the last.

    In the diary - which was partially (beef) tongue in cheek) I showed that the risk of cancer from eating 210 kg of a contaminated cow each year (if you find such cows) - you could raise your risk from cancer from the (background rate of cancers from all causes, including dangerous fossil fuel related causes about which no one gives a rat's ass) from 20,000 in 100,000 to 20,001 in 100,000.   Of course that's only if you ate the Chernobyl/Austrian cows every day.

    I very much doubt that the increased risk matched the risk associated with heart attacks and strokes from the fats in cow meat.

    The last figures I heard from deaths from the Senai quake (confirmed dead) was on the order of 10,000 people, definitely a tragedy.

    Nevertheless we need to ask ourselves, as of this date, exactly how many of these 10,000 were killed as a result of the nuclear operations that have - in my view to the point of distraction and absurdity - accounts of this event.

    It is known that some people - probably less than 50 - experienced exposures of 250 microsieverts, which is not a fatal dose.    Maybe 5 people experienced doses high enough to induce serious radiation sickness.

    I recall when the Texas City refinery blew up - another BP debacle - without any kind of earthquake, tsunami or other natural event.   Nobody gave a rat's ass, and there wasn't a great knashing of teeth about which direction the wind was blowing carcinogenic polyaromatics while the damn thing burned.

    So why the panic here and now?

    According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution - that mostly associated with dangerous fossil fuels running normally, and not after major earthquakes followed by Tsuamis, kills about 2 million people per year.  

    Now let's indulge the fantasies of the people who despise nuclear energy - irrationally in my view - and claim with no justification that the nuclear event that everyone is crying about kills as many people as the tsunami is already known to have killed by everything else associated with the Sendai quake and tsunami.

    It won't happen, but let's play pretend.

    That would be roughly 10,000 people.

    It follows by straight up calculation, that the death toll from the grand nuclear accident caused by a 9.0 earthquake that caused the complete inundation of the plant by water would be equivalent of less than two days of death from the normal operations of dangerous fossil fuel plants around the world.

    How is it that we never have a description of the wind shifts from dangerous fossil fuel coal plants in PA and Ohio toward New Jersey and New York, which happens pretty much every damn day?

    I'll tell you why:

    It doesn't sell newspapers.   It doesn't help scientifically illiterate journalists seem to be "in the know."

    That is, in my opinion, the only reason.

    In fact, if you look at the accounts, you will quickly recognize that the journalists in question know very little.   What they've been screaming about isn't even remotely connected with the observed risk.

    I note that it didn't even take a week for the "major nuclear event" to be blown off the front page headlines in favor of the latest oil war.

    Was this a serious nuclear incident?

    Absolutely.    Is it a major incident on the scale of dangerous fossil fuel use under normal conditions?   No, it is not even remotely close to being so.

    As the infrastructure of Japan begins to function, the state of the plants is increasingly understood.   It's relatively serious on a nuclear scale, but it is not serious on the scale of things that actually are major problems in Japan.    Mostly the fear mongering about the nuclear event, and not the nuclear event itself, has done the most damage.

    But thanks for keeping us up on meteorology in Japan.  

    Have a nice evening.

    •  I think you underestimate the workers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NNadir, Odysseus

      This reactor complex was hit by a worst case scenario earthquake and tsunami. Despite severe damage to the facilities, the workers have been able to keep exposures to the public at low levels.

      Yes, I have seen the numbers. I will continue to look at the radiological reports from Japan.

      I agree that the failure to report the death and disease that fossil fuel pollution causes is a major media failure.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 02:38:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am NOT underestimating the workers. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, FishOutofWater, bryfry, raoul78

        They are very brave men and women who addressed a matter, with completely unselfish courage, with which there was a great deal of uncertainty.

        I know a lot about the chemistry of nuclear fuels.    I have probably spent thousands, if not tens of thousands of hours thinking and reading about them.

        I was uncertain about what was happening.   So, in fact, was most of the world's nuclear community, to the extent that I understand this community.    A major element of nuclear design - albeit design from four or five decades ago - was knocked out.    That's not up for debate, it happened.

        Since the reports from the media did not include generally even a suggestion of scientific units, and since the behavior of high temperature nuclear fuels - although widely studied - is very complex, I did have concerns about the loss of lives, although I never expected them to be comparable to the loss of lives from non-nuclear events in this tragedy.

        But uncertainty - the hysteria and shock aside - is not the same as inevitability.

        Happily there were actually fewer injuries than I (and probably many other people) feared.     There may still yet be further injuries, but again, not anywhere near on the scale of injuries and death within three or four orders of magnitude with the non-nuclear events.

        All that said, I knew immediately that no worse case scenario was comparable to the best case scenario to dangerous fossil fuels, and the so called "renewable energy" fantasies that generate complacency about dangerous fossil fuels.

        Now, of course, it can be said that I am a "nuclear cultist" should one wish to be ungenerous, and let's face it, I certainly draw and create ungenerous remarks.  It would not be ungenerous to say that I am more or less obsessed with nuclear energy but my approach to said obsession is to research and learn at the highest available level.    I certainly generated a lot of "hide rates" in this anti-nuke space because of this event - how I miss the more poetic "troll rates! - from people who know almost nothing at all about nuclear energy, and hate it because they are ignorant of it.

        When I finally get around to writing a diary on this event, I have found a great bit of text - from a history of the ancient Greek city-state of Syracuse - the question of "cults" - the nuclear cult and the anti-nuke cults - will certainly be an issue to explore.

        But at the end of the day nuclear energy is going to come out looking stronger than ever after this event because of the hysteria, and a comparison with outcome - if one accepts that all forms of energy involve risk.   Nuclear differs in risk only inasmuch as it has minimized risks.    

        It is,  of course, is a good thing that nuclear energy has shown (once again) to be relatively robust, because frankly, whether anyone knows it or not, nuclear energy is the last, best, hope of the civilization of human race, if not the human race itself.

        •  Thanks for standing up for what you believe in (0+ / 0-)

          I appreciate your unique style, your sense of humor and your dedication to what you think is right.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:52:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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