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Author Topic: Global Nuclear Disaster?
LinuxFreakus
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I for one don't believe a word the government says when it comes to this nuclear incident. I predict when all is said and done this will turn out to be many times worse than Chernobyl, potentially effecting the entire planet, some areas more than others... obviously Japan, but also Hawaii, Alaska, the Western US, etc.

Reclaimed plutonium is absolutely deadly, a tiny spec can kill and two damaged Fukushima units use it. Lies always follow major events and I don't believe for a second that atmospheric radiation levels won't be harmful.

Downplaying the risk is outrageous, there are tens of millions of lives at stake. Amazingly, news outlets are even reporting that the elevated radiation after the latest explosion was "only" the spent fuel rods burning up... which is ridiculous... I can't imagine how much deadly material was released into the atmosphere if that happened...

Not really sure what can be done about it at this point, the damage is done, although the release of materials may continue for months if they can't get it contained.

[ March 15, 2011, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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LetterRip
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Most of the risk appears to be from poor external storage practices for spent rods.

While downplaying the risk is bad, so is wild speculation.

quote:
Amazingly, news outlets are even reporting that the elevated radiation after the latest explosion was "only" the spent fuel rods burning up... which is ridiculous... I can't imagine how much deadly material was released into the atmosphere if that happened...
Yes the fire was definitely bad. The question is how much risk the fire put the populace in. The answer is that you and I certainly don't know.
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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Most of the risk appears to be from poor external storage practices for spent rods.

Once the stuff is in the atmosphere, it goes where the wind takes it. There is no way this ends well. I'm sure they'll deny everything, and the true extent of the disaster won't be apparent for years.

Also the "low levels of radiation escaping"... how do they know how much is going up in the atmosphere? How many particles of plutonium are now floating around waiting for someone to inhale them and die (eventually from cancers, kidney failure, etc)? They are very vague about how they are measuring this. Measuring the environment in the immediate vicinity doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with how bad the problem is. Why all the wide area evacuations if there is "not much" radiation?

I'm betting the core is breached after the explosions and crap is leaking out... you really think they did a thorough inspection while all this is going on? Fat chance. There had to be some damage from that.

[ March 15, 2011, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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LinuxFreakus
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Not to mention, Japan has a pretty bad track record of covering up nuclear accidents which later turned out to be worse than they said. In this case "worse than they said" is probably a LOT worse than the previous incidents.

Mark my words, this will make Chernobyl look like a blip. It was years before we fully understood that probably ~1 million people were killed by Chernobyl and its after effects (and still more each year).

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JoshuaD
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So your point really boils down to this.

1) I don't trust the media
2) I don't trust the governments
3) Based on the information provided to me by the media and the governments, I think this is going to be a huge disaster.
4) I.e. I believe them when they give me information that supports my theory that this is going to be a huge mess, and I don't believe them when they give me information that disagrees with my theory.

For example, you fault the governments for not causing wide-spread panic, but at the same time you fault them for creating a large evacuation area as a precaution.

You have a theory. You're taking any information that supports it, then discarding, disbelieving, or twisting any information that doesn't agree with it.

No problem if that's what you are saying, but there's nothing left to discuss. By definition, you're refusing to believe anything but what you believe. That's cool, but I don't see much need for a discussion thread.


FWIW: I don't know whether you're right or wrong. I don't think anyone knows. Time will tell, and there's no point bugging out, causing panic, or pointing fingers until the dust is settled.

[ March 15, 2011, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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Wayward Son
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That being radioactive dust, of course... [Smile]
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by LinuxFreakus:

Mark my words, this will make Chernobyl look like a blip. It was years before we fully understood that probably ~1 million people were killed by Chernobyl and its after effects (and still more each year).

What do we get if we win this wager, assuming we remember in a year? I'm game for marking my calendar.
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cherrypoptart
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Maybe there needs to be a backup nuclear "strike force" that is ready to fly around the world and help out with everything needed to contain a situation like this.

I don't know what that is... maybe boron tubes, concrete mix, industrial hoses and pumps, teams with full radiation proof suits and extras to help those on the ground already. It sure seems like everyone is willing to help Japan, but at this nuclear facility I haven't seen much in the way of help to get it under control.

Whether or not it actually contaminates the world I don't know, but nevertheless it is still a situation that concerns the world even if there is only the risk of contaminating a large area of Japan. Sometimes people rely on world government and government in general for too much and for too many things, but this isn't one of those times.

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KidTokyo
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Linux,

Unless you are (or personally know) a fluent Japanese speaker who's been reading Japanese newspapers or watching NHK over the last few days, you really aren't in a position to make such broad pronouncements about how vague "they" are being.

You are basically parroting what CNN, etc., tells you.

In fact, the public has been getting information, often with considerable technical specificity. The problem is, there's much that the government and the power company doesn't know about the situation...much that cannot be known in advance.

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
So your point really boils down to this.

1) I don't trust the media
2) I don't trust the governments
3) Based on the information provided to me by the media and the governments, I think this is going to be a huge disaster.
4) I.e. I believe them when they give me information that supports my theory that this is going to be a huge mess, and I don't believe them when they give me information that disagrees with my theory.

That's not exactly what I'm saying. I'm saying that US media is reporting things which quite plainly don't make sense, based on what I know about nuclear reactors. The information I've been getting is therefore incorrect or incomplete. I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that US media is getting the information from official Japanese government statements, and that by extension those statements are mostly lies or at least very rough versions of the truth.

What reason would there be to lie unless the problem was far worse that they are letting on?

Why is my line of reasoning so crazy?

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KidTokyo
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The American media's coverage of Japanese media and politics is, in my experience, reliably unreliable.
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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:

In fact, the public has been getting information, often with considerable technical specificity. The problem is, there's much that the government and the power company doesn't know about the situation...much that cannot be known in advance.

Oh... in that case, was there an official statement saying that the core containment vessels are completely intact following the explosions, and not leaking?

How about the spent fuel rods burning up in the explosions? Did they say that happened or not? If so, did they act like this was alarming or say it was no big deal, just stay indoors? The fact is, if this happened it is very alarming since those rods would have contained significant amounts of plutonium which would have been blasted into the atmosphere. True, the *radiation* from that might not be so bad, it would be alpha type which is less dangerous, but the particles themselves (ingested/inhaled) are absolutely deadly. The tiniest spec will kill you (not immediately, but eventually) and I bet they didn't mention that part, and if they did, it would certainly contradict any statements saying that there was no significant danger to humans.

Please let us know what the Japanese media has been reporting, I am interested.

[ March 15, 2011, 10:51 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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cherrypoptart
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My understanding is that they told people to evacuate, but after significant amounts of radiation was released they basically said if you haven't evacuated yet it's kind of too late and you're probably better off staying inside now and hoping they get it under control and the wind blows the worst of it away. That sounds like they are admitting that there is significant radiation getting out.
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LoverOfJoy
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US media is often incorrect or incomplete. This is especially so when related to anything scientific in nature. While lying might occur at times, I think most of the time it's due to some other reason (e.g. incompetence).
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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
quote:
Originally posted by LinuxFreakus:

Mark my words, this will make Chernobyl look like a blip. It was years before we fully understood that probably ~1 million people were killed by Chernobyl and its after effects (and still more each year).

What do we get if we win this wager, assuming we remember in a year? I'm game for marking my calendar.
It would be ridiculous to literally place wagers on something like this. Mainly what I'm meaning to express is my amazement that people for the most part appear to be taking this rather calmly considering how nonsensical the coverage seems to be. Perhaps people in Japan are not as calm as they seem from here in the US though.
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cherrypoptart
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I've been looking at yahoo news and they've been basically freaking out about it since day one.

Edited to add: sorry about the term "freaking out". That implies that maybe they are over-reacting, but there seems like a very good chance that this news is pretty good, and by good I mean relatively accurate.

[ March 15, 2011, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: cherrypoptart ]

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
My understanding is that they told people to evacuate, but after significant amounts of radiation was released they basically said if you haven't evacuated yet it's kind of too late and you're probably better off staying inside now and hoping they get it under control and the wind blows the worst of it away. That sounds like they are admitting that there is significant radiation getting out.

If you connect the dots yourself, perhaps, but I haven't heard that much truthiness from any reports I've looked at. Every story I read they state that the radiation escaping is only slightly higher than normal and not a significant danger... with the exception of the short period where there was increased radiation when the spent rods were involved in one of the later explosions. But even that was downplayed saying that it was just for a short time and levels have returned to just slightly above normal.

Anyone who knows much about how this stuff works knows that those statements can't all be factual.

Where did you get your "understanding" from? I'd be interested to find some more info from that source, or sources.

EDIT: nevermind, you mentioned yahoo news while I was writing this. I haven't looked at yahoo news in years. I'll have a look.

[ March 15, 2011, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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LinuxFreakus
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Wow, yahoo news sounds much more believable. Pretty much what I expected was happening based on connecting the dots from the horribly inaccurate stories from other sources.... and now they've abandoned the reactors... so it will be a full on raging meltdown of epic proportions.

[ March 15, 2011, 11:15 PM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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KidTokyo
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quote:
How about the spent fuel rods burning up in the explosions? Did they say that happened or not? If so, did they act like this was alarming or say it was no big deal, just stay indoors? The fact is, if this happened it is very alarming since those rods would have contained significant amounts of plutonium which would have been blasted into the atmosphere. True, the *radiation* from that might not be so bad, it would be alpha type which is less dangerous, but the particles themselves (ingested/inhaled) are absolutely deadly. The tiniest spec will kill you (not immediately, but eventually) and I bet they didn't mention that part, and if they did, it would certainly contradict any statements saying that there was no significant danger to humans.

Please let us know what the Japanese media has been reporting, I am interested.

I just now asked my wife to look up a few Japanese news sites, and the possibility of steam carrying radioactive particulate matter has been out there for a while now.

Or, you could just read Daily Yomiuri, which includes near-instant English translations of Japanese articles.

CHECK IT OUT

quote:
The Yomiuri Shimbun

High levels of radiation were detected at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Tuesday morning after a fire broke out near a pool in the No. 4 reactor where spent nuclear fuel is temporarily kept, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

TEPCO said radiation measuring 400 millisieverts (400,000 microsieverts) per hour was detected at 10:22 a.m. following the fire, which broke out at 9:38 a.m.

"There is no doubt [these radiation levels] may pose health risks to humans," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference.

Earlier in the day, an explosion occurred at the No. 2 reactor at 6:14 a.m., leading to lower pressure in the suppression pool in the lower part of the reactor containment vessel.

Experts fear that a massive amount of radioactive material has leaked from the reactors after the series of accidents that may have damaged nuclear fuel rods.

A minute amount of radioactive material has been detected in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures and Tokyo on Tuesday, local governments said.

At a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged the roughly 136,000 residents within a 20- to 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima power plant to stay indoors.

According to TEPCO and other sources, high levels of radiation were detected at multiple locations near the plant--30 millisieverts (30,000 microsieverts) per hour between the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, 400 millisieverts (400,000 microsieverts) around the No. 3 reactor, and 100 millisieverts (100,000 microsieverts) near the No. 4 reactor.

"The levels are completely different from the microsievert figures we had announced previously," Edano said. "These figures may cause health damage."

Four-hundred millisieverts per hour can increase incidence of cancer among those exposed. The figure also is 400 times legal radiation limits citizens are normally allowed to be exposed to, except for medical purposes.

In the wake of the fire at the No. 4 reactor, TEPCO informed the central and the Fukushima prefectural governments about the incident. It also sought cooperation from the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces to extinguish the fire. However, it was confirmed about 11 a.m. that the fire went out by itself.

TEPCO said the No. 4 reactor was out of operation for regular checks when the magnitude-9 earthquake hit the Tohoku region Friday.

However, the earthquake knocked out electricity to the reactor needed to circulate cooling water in the pool that temporarily stores spent nuclear fuel. As a result, residual heat from nuclear fuel rods raised the water temperature in the pool from the ordinary level of about 40 C to 85 C, TEPCO said.

"Lower water level in the pool exposed tubes [encasing the fuel rods], which reacted with steam, likely generating hydrogen and causing an explosion," said Tetsuji Imanaka, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.

A total of 783 spent nuclear fuel rods were stored in the pool. At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, three reactors--Nos. 4, 5 and 6--were out of service for regular inspections. About 300 to 500 spent nuclear fuel rods are also kept at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 reactors.

The explosion at the No. 2 reactor is believed to have damaged the suppression pool. The blast was heard at 6:14 a.m. at the No. 2 reactor, whose cooling functions had already been deteriorating. Pressure inside its suppression pool dropped from the normal level of three atmospheres to one atmosphere, according to TEPCO.

TEPCO said there is a possibility the suppression pool may have been partially damaged and radioactive material may have leaked outside.

At 7:50 a.m., 1-1/2 hours after the explosion, radiation of 1,941 microsieverts per hour was observed at the main gate of the No. 1 plant. Forty minutes later, the level shot up to 8,217 microsieverts per hour, which is more than eight times the exposure limit considered to be healthy for one year.

On Tuesday morning, wind at 1.5 meters per second was blowing from the northeast near the nuclear power plant. The main gate is on the northeast side of the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO said.

The University of Tokyo's research institute in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, located about 100 kilometers south of the power plant, detected radiation of more than 5 microsieverts per hour, the legal limit set under the Law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness.

According to TEPCO, the pressure suppression pool is designed to release and lower steam pressure if it rises in the reactor containment vessel.

The pressure inside the containment vessel remained unchanged at 7.3 atmospheres, according to TEPCO. According to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the suppression pool contains steam and water with radioactive material.
(Mar. 16, 2011)



[ March 15, 2011, 11:31 PM: Message edited by: KidTokyo ]

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LinuxFreakus
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Pretty grim [Frown]
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Clark
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Linux,
Rather than leading with hyperbole, why not lead with detail? What, specifically, is being reported that you disbelieve? How does this not fit with what you know about nuclear reactors? This would be more effective than declaring a state of emergency based on . . . what is this based on again?

As to the idea that "The tiniest spec [of plutonium] will kill you":
Wikipedia says:
quote:
Based on chemical toxicity alone, the element is less dangerous than arsenic or cyanide and about the same as caffeine.
. . . . .
Plutonium is not absorbed into the body efficiently when ingested; only 0.04% of plutonium oxide is absorbed after ingestion.
. . . . .
Plutonium is more dangerous when inhaled than when ingested. The risk of lung cancer increases once the total dose equivalent of inhaled radiation exceeds 400 mSv. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the lifetime cancer risk for inhaling 5,000 plutonium particles, each about 3 microns wide, to be 1% over the background U.S. average. Ingestion or inhalation of large amounts may cause acute radiation poisoning and death; no human is known to have died because of inhaling or ingesting plutonium, and many people have measurable amounts of plutonium in their bodies.

(emphasis mine)

From http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf15.html
quote:

Ingestion is not a significant hazard, because plutonium passing through the gastro-intestinal tract is poorly absorbed and is expelled from the body before it can do harm.
. . . .
Several populations of people who have been exposed to plutonium dust (e.g. people living down-wind of Nevada test sites, Hiroshima survivors, nuclear facility workers, and "terminally ill" patients injected with Pu in 1945–46 to study Pu metabolism) have been carefully followed and analyzed.
These studies generally do not show especially high plutonium toxicity or plutonium-induced cancer results. "There were about 25 workers from Los Alamos National Laboratory who inhaled a considerable amount of plutonium dust during the 1940's; according to the hot-particle theory, each of them has a 99.5% chance of being dead from lung cancer by now, but there has not been a single lung cancer among them."

Also, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (part of the CDC) has a 200+ page report on plutonium. I have read only a tiny part. But it says:
quote:

No acute-, intermediate-, or chronic-duration inhalation MRLs (Minimal Risk Levels) were derived for plutonium due to the lack of suitable human or animal data regarding health effects following inhalation exposure to plutonium.

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp143.pdf

It's certainly a serious situation. I still think that there will be no catastrophic disaster from the nuclear power plants, but I really have no way of knowing, and the data coming out of Japan is incomplete at best. (I also agree with LoJ that the media typically does a poor job of accurately reporting science-y things.)

I'll conclude with a headline from CNN: "How bad is it? Depends on which nuclear expert you ask"
( http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/15/japan.nuclear/index.html?hpt=T1 )

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LinuxFreakus
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As I said, plutonium won't kill you right away. It will remain lodged in your soft tissues emitting radiation for years until you develop cancer (not guaranteed, but very high risk).

What are "plutonium induced cancers"? The stuff gets into your blood and can end up anywhere. Studies following Chernobyl have indicated that as many as 400 million people have been exposed to fallout from the disaster. Of those, close to one million have died from related causes.... so most people who are exposed may not die from it, but when you consider the scale, it will still hit many many people.

Note: I'm not saying plutonium is the *only* risk, it is just one of the most obvious which the media seemed to be completely ignoring assuming the statements about the rods burning were correct.

[ March 16, 2011, 12:05 AM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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Clark
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Linux says:
quote:
Every story I read they state that the radiation escaping is only slightly higher than normal and not a significant danger... with the exception of the short period where there was increased radiation when the spent rods were involved in one of the later explosions. But even that was downplayed saying that it was just for a short time and levels have returned to just slightly above normal.

Anyone who knows much about how this stuff works knows that those statements can't all be factual.

Why can't those statements be factual? Why can't radiation levels go up for a short period of time and then go back down? I'll give an example of how it can happen. Within the reactor, air (oxygen and nitrogen, essentially) and water (hydrogen and oxygen) are being irradiated, and become radioactive themselves. Venting any steam to decrease pressure will result in a release of radioactive oxygen and nitrogen. The good news? The half life of N-13 is 10 minutes. There are various radioactive isotopes of oxygen with half lives of 2 minutes down to fractions of a second. So, release gas, radiation goes up, 30 minutes late, radiation levels are basically back to where they were before.
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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by Clark:
Why can't those statements be factual?

Because one of the statements was that because the massive release happened in a short time, the danger was minimal... that is an outrageous statement.
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cherrypoptart
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I'm not sure if this will be a world-wide disaster or not, but I think it's going to be a huge disaster in the form of a long term health risk for much of Japan. I'd like to see more done to help Japan. If it might cost over a billion dollars to get that nuclear reactor completely covered up with sand, or concrete, that would be money well spent.

Also, people should be allowed to evacuate the irradiated areas, and flights and ships should be going non-stop from Japan to host countries including the United States. Japan may need much of their population to rebuild, but at the moment a lot of their population needs help and it might actually be easier to help them in Australia or Hawaii or New Zealand than to do it in Japan, especially with that radiation hazard. I know people are trying to help, and it might seem like we appreciate the enormity of the situation, but I don't think we're doing enough and I don't think we do appreciate how much worse this can get, or how much more we can do.

For instance, I wouldn't mind seeing an open immigration offer right now for Japanese citizens who have been and will be displaced by both the tsunami as well as, perhaps even more seriously, the radiation. Bring them to America right now if they want to come, set them up in bank owned properties and let them stay for a year until things settle down and then see if they want to go back or not. I understand that Japan will also need its population to rebuild and maybe they want to stay and do it, but we should at least extend the offer. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that millions, perhaps tens of millions of Japanese will die from cancer because of these nuclear power plant disasters, and those deaths are needless because they can relocate to safer areas even if that means moving to another country, at least until the radiation levels die down to safer levels. My personal policy on a radiation situation can be summed up as "get the hell out of there." Many of those affected may feel they don't have anywhere else they can go, and that's exactly what we should offer them.

So I'm pretty much with Linux in agreeing that this situation has the potential to be a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, if not in the amount of radiation released then still in terms of millions of lives needlessly crushed by cancer especially when you consider the higher population densities in Japan. It may end up not being as bad as many of us fear, but when so many human lives are at stake, it's better to err on the side of caution.

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Clark
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quote:

Because one of the statements was that because the massive release happened in a short time, the danger was minimal... that is an outrageous statement.

How big is "massive"? How long is "a short time"? What type of radiation? Was anyone around when the release happened? What does minimal danger mean?

If radiation levels are 50,000 times normal (normal being what we all receive every day by virtue of living on earth) that sounds very bad. If I am exposed to that for 10 minutes, I have received 1 year's worth of extra radiation. Don't get me wrong, that certainly isn't a good thing. But are you worried about living another year because of the radiation you'll get? If the radiation level is "only" 5,000 times normal, then you get about 1 months worth of extra radiation. (A cross country (USA) plane trip is worth a few days of "normal" radiation. A chest x-ray is somewhere around a weeks worth.)

My point is: discussions of this nature are pointless without details. It can only devolve into wild guessing and speculation.

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LetterRip
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cherry,

quote:
I'm not sure if this will be a world-wide disaster or not, but I think it's going to be a huge disaster in the form of a long term health risk for much of Japan.
We don't really have any evidence to currently support that supposition. If things go a lot worse then they are currently (they end up not being able to cool things enough so lots of the spent fuel catches fire, and then they get a lot of airborne radiation) then long term negative health effects are feasible. If they can keep things under control (certainly plausible at this time)- then negative health effects for more than a few hundred people from the radiation seem unlikely.

quote:
Also, people should be allowed to evacuate the irradiated areas
They were already evacuated (20 km radius evacuation zone - about 170,000 people), only emergency personnel needed to work on the nuclear disaster are present and those who refused to evacuate.
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LinuxFreakus
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Just because you can be exposed to a certain amount of radiation over a long period (months or years) doesn't mean it isn't harmful to be exposed to it over the course of hours or days. The effects would be much different. This has been clearly demonstrated by the data we have from Chernobyl.

Also for what its worth, the reports I saw were saying that the levels during that time were about 8 - 10 times the normal amount for a whole year.

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LinuxFreakus
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
If they can keep things under control (certainly plausible at this time)- then negative health effects for more than a few hundred people from the radiation seem unlikely.

That scenario is far from plausible considering they've now abandoned cooling efforts and completely evacuated the plant. Even before that, it is blatantly obvious that more than a few hundred people will have health risks? That would mean just the plant workers and pretty much nobody else... nobody in the evacuation zone, etc....you've gotta be kidding, and at what point was it under control?

From the moment they began pumping sea water they had to have known they were doomed. The chances of that working were pretty low considering the high pressure they had to overcome to get any water in there once the temp had already risen too high and the normal cooling systems were inoperative.

[ March 16, 2011, 12:42 AM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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LetterRip
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Linux,

there was a 400 millisievert/hr spike (100 time the annual radiation one encounters naturally over a year). That doesn't mean there were folks exposed to that though.

As was pointed out earlier some of these spikes are due to venting of elements that have a quite short lived radioactivity (minutes). Unless significant amounts of uranium and other long lived radiation sources end up getting vaporized (which could definitely happen if cooling is lost for the spent uranium rods and fires erupt) then it will be mostly short lived (a few day or so half life) or extremely short lived radiation in the 30km evac zone and the impact to health will be minimal.

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cherrypoptart
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Latest is changed again: cooling efforts are back on.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/wl_nm/us_japan_quake

Workers return to stricken nuclear plant

-----------------------------------------

I have to admit I kind of freak out a bit where radiation is concerned, even with dental x-rays, ct scans, the TSA backscatterers, and the rest of it. If it's not going to do you any good, then there's no need for any of it if you can help it at all, not even a teeny tiny little bit that wouldn't hurt a fly. It doesn't help that there have been many cases in the U.S. in which our government outright lied about radiation risks and people needlessly died because of it. I don't expect this will be anywhere near as bad in terms of radiation released as the Chernobyl accident, but you have to wonder about possible similarities in the downplay of health risks. Were the people who got cancer because of Chernobyl fully informed of the dangers they faced by staying where they were, or did governments decide that the risk wasn't worth getting overly concerned about so didn't bother to inform them. Yes, I realize that if everyone who could get cancer moved because of the danger, it would have resulted in a mass migration the likes of which humanity has never seen. That's my point. It seems like governments worry about the panic more than they do the actual incidents, and that goes for more than just radiation but I'll try not to get sidetracked. So basically I'm agreeing with Linux again that governments and even many in the media act to downplay the risks, but the final results in cancer deaths a decade later will tell the true tale. And I could be wrong, and I hope I am.

I just don't want to see this happening to the Japanese when they can avoid it now by moving to safer areas.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/chernobyl-deaths-180406/

If it's proven to be safe, and that may even depend on weather conditions, then people can always return later.

[ March 16, 2011, 01:05 AM: Message edited by: cherrypoptart ]

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LetterRip
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Linux - I meant significant health risks.

Cherry,

yep the return was expected. Surges of radiation that briefly result in temporary halting of work is fully expected, and I'm sure will happen a number of additional times before things come fully under control.

quote:
So basically I'm agreeing with Linux again that governments and even many in the media act to downplay the risks, but the final results in cancer deaths a decade later will tell the true tale. And I could be wrong, and I hope I am.
The government of Japan appears to be doing its best to provide accurate information. Media appear to not understand the issue so freak out like chicken little.
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LinuxFreakus
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So lets say 100 million people were exposed (not inconceivable, possibly even quite conservative if rods in the holding pool were exposed to the air and burned in the explosion). Even with a relatively low risk to each individual, a pretty large number may die, no?

One thing we do have going for us is that hydrogen explosions don't tend to burn stuff on the ground as badly as other types... but there was still a fire on the ground.

Obviously, we don't really know 100%, I realize that but it has got to be worse than just a few hundred people at this point, even in the most wildly optimistic scenarios.

[ March 16, 2011, 01:09 AM: Message edited by: LinuxFreakus ]

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LetterRip
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LinuxFreakus,

I guess I don't see where your suppositions on exposure are coming from. If you mean exposure to a doubling of the background radiation for a couple of hours then we get about 3 million people total. Doubling of the background radation, even permanently wouldn't be expected to have any ill effects.

From what I can find - there might be about 300 people total who have had enough radiation exposure to be of health concern for certain.

quote:
Three people have been treated for radiation sickness and about 200 people have been exposed to unsafe levels and taken to hospital.
Radiation risk

In addition I suspect there might be a few thousand who will have a doubled life time risk of cancer when all is said and done.

quote:
So lets say 100 million people were exposed (not inconceivable, possibly even quite conservative if rods in the holding pool were exposed to the air and burned in the explosion). Even with a relatively low risk to each individual, a pretty large number may die, no?
No idea where your conjecture of 100 million comes from. However the answer is no. You seem to have the belief that risk is linear (known as the LNT - linear no threshold), so even a small increase in radiation is reflected in a population wide increase in negative health outcomes. Our current best knowledge is that we just don't know - it is entirely possible that no negative health outcome from this amount increase will occur

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model

quote:
Obviously, we don't really know 100%, I realize that but it has got to be worse than just a few hundred people at this point, even in the most wildly optimistic scenarios.
See above - it really doesn't 'have to be worse than a few hundred people' at this point.
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LinuxFreakus
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LetterRip, you are focusing only on the immediate radiation release. Even at Chernobyl not that many people were exposed to high levels of radiation when the event took place, yet years later ~1 million have died.

Given the high poplation density in Japan, depending on where the various particles fall huge numbers of people will be exposed. You appear to be assuming that there will be virtually no fallout from this.

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G2
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quote:
TEPCO said radiation measuring 400 millisieverts (400,000 microsieverts) per hour was detected at 10:22 a.m. following the fire, which broke out at 9:38 a.m.

"There is no doubt [these radiation levels] may pose health risks to humans," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference.

To get a little perspective, 1 Sievert equals 1000 millisieverts so 400 millisieverts is 0.4 Sieverts. The average person absorbs 6.2 mSv per year just from being on the planet, a chest CT scan will hit you with 6–18 mSv. The average dose to people living within 16km of Three Mile Island accident: 0.08 mSv. 100 mSv/yr is the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is clearly evident.

Here's the threat:
  • 0–0.25 Sv: None
  • 0.25–1 Sv: Some people feel nausea and loss of appetite; bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen damaged.
  • 1–3 Sv: Mild to severe nausea, loss of appetite, infection; more severe bone marrow, lymph node, spleen damage; recovery probable, not assured.
  • 3–6 Sv: Severe nausea, loss of appetite; hemorrhaging, infection, diarrhea, skin peels, sterility; death if untreated.
  • 6–10 Sv: Above symptoms plus central nervous system impairment; death expected.Above 10 Sv: Incapacitation and death.


quote:
Professor Richard Wakeford, an expert in radiation exposure at the University of Manchester, said exposure to a dose of 400 millisieverts was unlikely to cause radiation sickness - that would require a dose of around twice that level (one sievert/one gray).

However, it could start to depress the production of blood cells in the bone marrow, and was likely to raise the lifetime risk of fatal cancer by 2-4%.

So if the reported levels are accurate, there may be a risk to some people. I wouldn't want to take that 0.4 dose but I wouldn't get just too overly freaked out about it either.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
The problem is, there's much that the government and the power company doesn't know about the situation...much that cannot be known in advance.
That's especially true if the whole thing gets sufficiently nuclear, as it'll be impossible for the power company to know the location of the power plant and whether or not the plant is melting down at the same time. [Smile]
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LinuxFreakus
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I have to say it doesn't seem as bad today as it did yesterday. I may have overreacted... by now if the radiation was worse than reported, we would have probably started to hear about it from independent sources.

If the stupid media would get their facts straight, maybe I wouldn't have been as tempted to assume the worst either...

Its not over yet, but seems like it could end up being just a bit worse than three mile, but not another Chernobyl, unless we find out more bad news later.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by LinuxFreakus:
LetterRip, you are focusing only on the immediate radiation release. Even at Chernobyl not that many people were exposed to high levels of radiation when the event took place, yet years later ~1 million have died.

That's completely untrue. It's not even close to the real facts. One sensational book came out claiming 1 million deaths with few facts to back it up.

Meanwhile, actual scientific studies are claiming roughly 4,000 deaths, most of those due to higher levels of cancer.

quote:

As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation
from the disaster
, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within
months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.
...
The international experts have estimated that radiation could cause up to about 4,000
eventual deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations
, i.e., emergency
workers from 1986-1987, evacuees and residents of the most contaminated areas. This
number contains both the known radiation-induced cancer and leukaemia deaths and a
statistical prediction, based on estimates of the radiation doses received by these
populations.

It's a certainty that smoking in the affected population is causing an order of magnitude higher amount of deaths than the radiation from Chernobyl did.

IAEA

You are reacting irrationally to the real risks and dangers involved. This is a calamity, but trying to make it out to be far worse than it is only makes the situation worse. Just tell yourself this might be as bad as a 10% increase in the smoking rate to put the situation in perspective.

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KidTokyo
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Tom,

I'm not going to forget any time soon that you made that comment when people's lives are at risk.

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