Fear mongering over WATER leaks at Fukushima Dai-ichi

Update: (Posted August 30, 2013 0646) There is a companion post in response to comments and additional information developed in the period since the original publication. End Update.

I’ll start with the bottom line first: despite all word to the contrary, there is no reason for anyone to be concerned that “contaminated” water from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station is going to cause them any physical harm, now or in the future. The only way my bottom line statement could possibly be wrong is if some really nutty activists decide to occupy the site and drink directly from the water tanks that have been assumed to be leaking. Those nutty activists would have to be very patient people, because they would have to drink that water for many years before any negative effects might show up.

Fish swimming in the harbor have nothing to worry about; people who eat fish that swam in the harbor have nothing to worry about; people who decide to swim in the harbor would have nothing to worry about. A basic tenet of radiation protection is that the farther from the source you are, the less you have to worry about, but I am not sure how I can state that you have less than nothing to worry about.

Nearly all of the fear mongering stories I have read about the water leaking from the large number of tanks on the site of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station contain few, if any facts that allow an accurate risk assessment. A long time ago, I learned that there were several ways to respond to a report of “contaminated” water. The most effective way was to make a fairly quick determination of the level of contamination so the appropriate resources could be applied to the problem.

Radioactive contamination is not a “go; no go” question, there is an infinite spectrum of possible concentrations and total sizes; the top end of that spectrum should generate a flight response, the bottom end of the spectrum should generate a yawn. A quantity of radioactive material that is small enough to generate a yawn should not rise on the scale just because more clean water is added to the mix to make the problem seem larger.

Unlike biological pathogens, radioactive material does not reproduce. A fixed quantity never grows; it decays and gradually gets less and less dangerous. In fact, a perfectly rational, but long ago discouraged response mantra is “the answer to pollution is dilution.”

Aside: I will remain focused on the topic at hand and not discuss why that useful mantra has been actively discredited and discouraged. End Aside.

I probably should have written more about this a long time ago, but I have never understood why there were so many tanks being built at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power station to hold treated water. From everything I have read, water that is used to cool the damaged reactors is contaminated to a level that might be of concern, but then it is run through treatment systems that remove essentially all of the isotopes that would harm to the heath of any living creature. The very best place to put that treated water is the same place where most treated sewage ends up – into the vast ocean where it will never again be a source of worry or harm to anyone.

An effective, low cost solution to alleviate any concerns of local fishermen would be bringing an occasional tanker to the site. The contents of a limited number of holding tanks could be put on the tanker, which could then take the water a few miles out to sea. At that point, the treated water could be diluted into an enormously large ocean.

Warning: From here out, there is going to be a little math and some units that you might need to look up.

According to the scary stories I have read, the reason we are all supposed to be concerned is that bone-seeking strontium-90 has been detected in the contaminated water. The level has been reported as “thirty times” the drinking water standard.

Unfortunately, most “news” sources these days have a very low opinion of their readers and seem to think that using internationally accepted scientific units will confuse them. In my opinion, attempting to avoid using standard units is what confuses people.

Here is my attempt at helping you understand why I yawn when someone thinks we should all be frightened by the news that 300 tons of water contaminated with Sr-90 at 30 times the drinking water standard might have leaked out of a storage tank and might soon reach the Pacific Ocean.

According to Chapter 9 (Radiological Aspects) of the World Health Organization’s document titled “Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality”, radiation standards for drinking water are set with some extremely conservative assumptions.

The levels are established so that a person drinking two liters of water at the limit every day for an entire year (a total of 730 liters) will receive a “committed effective dose” of just 0.1 mSv.

Note: The calculation of the “committed effective dose” value recognizes that the dose will occur over a period long after the drinking has stopped due to internal accumulation and biological half life of the isotope of concern. Because the dose is in Sieverts, it takes into account the biological damage caused by ingesting Sr-90, which emits a high energy beta particle. End note.

A dose of 0.1 mSv is 10% of the maximum allowed additional dose (1 mSv) to a member of the general public. The average background dose rate from all sources of radiation has been calculated to be 2.4 mSv/year.

For strontium-90, the drinking water standard is 10 Bq/l. The water of concern is contaminated to 30 times that standard and there are 300 tons of it. There are one thousand liters in a metric ton of water. Determining the amount of Sr-90 that might flow into the Pacific Ocean is a simple multiplication problem.

10 Bq/l x 30 x 300 tons x 1000 l/ton = 90,000,000 Bq

Written in scientific notation on a blog where I dislike making the effort to use exponents, that can also be written as 9E+7 or 9 x 10^7.

That might sound like a lot of material, but each gram of Sr-90 contains approximately 5,000,000,000,000 Bq. That can also be written as 5E+12 or 5 TBq (terabecquerels)

If someone drank two liters per day of the water that we are supposed to be afraid of for an entire year, their committed effective dose would be just 3 mSv; it would slightly more than double their annual background dose. If the entire amount of that water entered the Pacific Ocean, it would contain less than 0.00002 grams (0.02 milligrams) of strontium-90.

Now can you see why I am not worried and why I think you need to stop worrying? Of course, I expect that most of the people who have made it this far were never worried in the first place, but you might have family, friends or acquaintances who have been losing sleep in fear of the Blob – in the form of water leaking from Fukushima – coming to get them.

One more thing – the most recent stories have included concerns that additional groundwater is flowing onto the power station site an might become contaminated on its normal path to the ocean. Remember what I wrote earlier; a limited amount of radioactive material does not get any larger just because more clean water is added.

Recommended reading

Fukushima Commentary August 24 Japan’s Disastrous Flirtation with Worst-Case Scenarios

The Register – Oh noes! New ‘CRISIS DISASTER’ at Fukushima! Oh wait, it’s nothing. Again: But hey, let’s soil ourselves repeatedly anyway

New Scientist – Should Fukushima’s radioactive water be dumped at sea?

Atoms in Japan – METI Panel Clarifies Approach to Stop Contaminated Water from Leaking at Fukushima Daiichi

About Rod Adams

89 Responses to “Fear mongering over WATER leaks at Fukushima Dai-ichi”

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  1. James Greenidge says:

    Extremely relevent points, especially since yesterday on our local news on this issue mention by Michele Kearney’s blog (
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/08/is-fukushima-irradiating-tuna-salmon-and-herring-on-the-west-coast-of-north-america.html ) is starting to snowball here regarding to fish life with Indian Point and Millstone. The worst thing is there’s no media pro-nuclear advocate who can use your points to rebuff the FUD on the media. It was so damn frustrationg to see willful fearmongering go totally unchallenged on the news which totally has no responsibilty to fairness or accuracy. It’s like nuclear energy is climbing into a boxing ring more trussed-up than a Thanksgiving turkey.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    • James Crawford says:

      I have been quite amused by the tuna stories – In perspective: An average banana contains roughly 7-10 times as much radioactivity in the form of potassium-40 (yes, the old banana analogy) than the radiocaesium ingested by eating a kg of these “contaminated” tuna. The whole point of the original study (http://bit.ly/15iooj6) was to demonstrate the feasibility of using anthropogenic radiocaesium from a well defined source as a novel tracer tag to study migratory patterns of tuna. It has no real relevance as a health issue because the amounts are so vanishingly small as to be meaningless relative to background doses of natural radionuclides. The uncritical reporting reminds me of this cartoon: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1174

  2. Daniel says:

    The IAEA is silent on this. What a shame.

    No cause for alert should not mean to remain silent.

    Do your job IAEA.

  3. Daniel says:

    100% beta radiation. Why don’t i Buy all of humanity ‘I survived Fukushima 2′ T shirts And move on to Fukushima 3.

    • Daniel says:

      Fukushima 1 and Fukushima 2 — not a single death and still counting and most of all, panicking and evacuation.

  4. Daniel says:

    I know it sounds a bit ‘off’ but I always wondered why the Vermont Yankee plant never offered to stage pro nuke activities and offer drinking tritium tainted Gaterade, Apple Juice, Water with the same level of insignificant contamination that stirred emotions a while back.

    I would have attented for such a drink. I live in Montreal (south shore).

    I wondered why Meredith never came up with that idea. But she is doing fine on the side of creativity with her chocolate fudge tactic and is doing a fine job.

  5. Daniel says:

    Dale Klein. Former NRC chairnan, is an advisor to Fikushima.

    Why is he silent on the Water issue ? Is he anti Nuke ?

  6. JMS says:

    Another good article, Rod!

    This has become the go-to site for common sense information on all aspect of nuclear power.

    I’m really perplexed by the rational approach taken by yourself and other ex-navy nukes like Ted Rockwell compared to the actions of some other members of the nuclear navy.

    I’d really like to hear your opinion on the eight sailors who were on board the USS Ronald Reagan at the time of the Fukushima accident and are now suing TEPCO for being exposed to “harmful radiation”.

    How can all of you going through the same high level of nuclear reactor and radiation safety training have such fundamentally different views on the level where radiation becomes harmful?

    I guess it says alot that the other 5492 sailors on that nuclear aircraft carrier didn’t join in a class action suit. What does this say about the 8 sailors that did bring the lawsuit? Did they really understand the training they received? Are they still qualified to serve on board a nuclear aircraft carrier?

    • ddpalmer says:

      From reading the initial court filing none of the crewmembers who are suing are nuclear trained. They are mostly boatswain mates of various types.

      I never served on a carrier but from my time on an AD and two SSNs I would guess that the deck and aviation personnel would have very minimal training about radiation. In fact most of it was probably about response to a NBC attack and/or to teach them not to go into places with Rad Warning signs.

      We are talking about maybe 30 minutes of training as compared to a Navy Nuke who has gone through 6 months of classroom training followed by 6 months of operation training at a working reactor before they ever set foot on a nuclear vessel.

      • JMS says:

        @ddpalmer, thanks for the clarification. I was under the false assumption that everyone deployed on a nuclear vessel went through the intensive 6 month training program. I heard that the 8 sailors that filed the lawsuit were all working the flight deck – it appears that they didn’t have that higher level of radiation safety training.

  7. James Greenidge says:

    Is this a joke or did we lose another war for common sense and rationality??

    http://www.entergy.com/vy/

    Can’t believe it!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    • Daniel says:

      No joke James.

      The US is following Germany’s path. Instead of burning more coal, the US will burn more gas.

      Climate change worries ? I do not think so. The subsidy quagmare creates such an illusion that in many states that the incentive to keep bringing on inferior source of energies (solar and wind) will be perpetuted for a long long time. Texas now has more employees in the solar industry than it has ranchers.

      The solar and wind lobbies are so strong that it will not let go of its subsidies, the withdrawal of which has to be approved byh the government who is subject to economic and job creation pressure for, I repeat, very costly and inefficient energy.

      This is Dilbert’s in reverse, whatever it means to the green.

    • Jim Rogers says:

      Not a joke at all. Announced to site personnel by the CNO at 0830 this morning. Very sad day for those of us who put our heart and soul into Vermont Yankee through all the battles. My second plant to be decommissioned, first was Maine Yankee. Best nuclear power plant I have ever worked at in almost 40 years in the business. For the navy nukes like myself that includes the S5W plant.
      Everyone at the plant appreciates all the support we have gotten over the years from people like Rod and Meredith.

    • KitemanSA says:

      No, we lost another war to purchase mandates and the resulting perversion of the electricity market. Notice that one of the reasons given were “wholesale electricity market design flaws”. Those flaws include the madatory purchase requirements.

      I think Entergy should sue for violation of their 14th Amendment rights to equal prtection.

  8. David Walters says:

    No it’s real. It all over the ANS list and other pro-nuke lists. But lets not get side tracked around the issue of tuna fish sandwiches and my weekend sushi.

  9. David Walters says:

    Rod following some of the links to the links in the articles you cited I found this:
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/08/are-the-levels-of-fukushima-radiation-hitting-north-america-harmless.html

    This is a VERY serious hit piece on low dose radiation and deals specifically with the issues here. It is this sort of things that needs a debate around. It’s LNT based, of course, but, the health physicist who writes here talks about the huge differences between external and internal emitters; that they are not the same; and challenges the ‘banana theory’ we know and love so well. Worth the read and debate on. I’ll post it to the ANS list as well.

    David

  10. Alessandro says:

    Thank you for your nice article!

    I’m still not sure, however, about the actual composition of the 300k m3 of “leaked” water. You say that it contains about 30*10Bq/l of Sr-90, however the article you linked is quite old (June) and doesn’t seem to be related to this water.

    Since I don’t trust the media on this matter, I’d like to take sampling values directly from TEPCO website (all informations are taken from there anyway, I guess). I searched for some numbers and I did found some samplings, but I can’t understand if there is something relevant to the water we are talking about.

    Maybe here?
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229965_5130.html

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Allessandro

      Thank you for the link to the recent Tepco press release. If we assume that the Sr-90 concentration cannot be any larger than the “all beta” number, it shows that the 300 Bq/l assumption is pretty good and may even be a bit on the high side as an average concentration for all of the sampled water.

      • Eamon says:

        I’ve found a TEPCO Handout on the situation, from August 20th.

        It states that the water loss is being estimated from the difference in the height of water in the leaking tank compared to its neighbours, so this is a worst-case scenario estimation.

        Page 5 of the handout gives gamma nuclide per cm3, the max being for Cs-137 at 100 Bl/cm3, 100,000 Bl/L.

        Also given is the beta nuclide per cm3. This is much higher – 80,000 Bl/cm3, 80,000,000 Bl/l.

        The handout can be found at http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130820_03-e.pdf

  11. Daniel says:

    One thing is for sure, Japan is about to turn to international help and lots of $$$ to fix a one dollar problem.

    Bloomberg’s editorial today wonders why Japan has not sollicited the NRC help already.

    Let’s hope they do and see if the NRC will set foot within their own established 50 miles evacuation zone?

    If Japan has any sense, let’s hope they do not call upon te NRC whose expertise only lies with billing US nuclear plants for no value added services and ignore the law.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-25/abe-s-nuclear-imperative-starts-at-fukushima.html

  12. Engineer-Poet says:

    A basic tenant of radiation protection

    What is this alkaline renter of which you speak?  </snark>

  13. Jon Weston says:

    Question:

    According to Reuters, the water in question contains 80 million Becquerels of radiation per liter (Source: http://rt.com/news/japan-fukushima-level-three-762/); however, if I read your post correctly, my understanding is that you are saying the contamination is only 300Bq/l (or 30 times the stated standard level of 10 Bq/l.).

    Updating your calculations to the 80m Bq/l radiation level and assuming only 300 tons of water will ever leak (lets hope there is not another devastating earthquake in this extremely earthquake prone region) gives us 80,000,000 Bq/l x 300 tons 1000 l/ton = 24,000,000,000,000 Bq. This would be 266,666 times more radiation than you calculated.

    Is this incorrect?

    • Jon Weston says:

      Sorry – that article wasn’t Retuers… anyway, here is a BBC article with the same 80m Bq/l estimate: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23764382; a Japan Times article with the same estimate: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/27/national/tepcos-whack-a-mole-prompts-government-take-over-in-fukushima/#.Uh0U2z9IEjM; and a Washington Post article saying the same: http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-MS4BFS6TTDS701-54UMH8GQQC3BU2E2U41LALHB2G.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Jon

        I’m doing some additional searching and research to try to resolve the difference between the numbers reported in this August 23, 2013 press release

        http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229965_5130.html

        and the presentation slides that were apparently the basis for the far higher numbers used by a number of media outlets.

        The press release has concentration numbers for Cs-137 that range from “Below detection limit” to 150 Bq/l and for “all beta” ranging from “below detection limit” to 580 Bq/l with most around 300 Bq/l.

        It appears that there might be a unit conversion issue that results in a very large difference in final numbers. My first guess is that someone wrote Bq/cm^3 when they meant Bq/l or vice versa.

        My second point is that press releases from a company as large as Tepco tend to get far more scrutiny and fact checking than handouts with numbers buried in a table on page 5.

        More to follow.

        • Alessandro says:

          Rod,

          the 8 million Bq/l value seems a bit too much indeed. Also, take a look at this page:

          http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/index-e.html

          and at the first link in the “Other” section:
          http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/south_discharge_130826-1e.pdf

          I may be wrong, but the “Water from the tank No.5 at the H4 area” should be the actual water inside the storage tank, and so the most radioactive. The beta value is 200k Bq/l, much more than 300 but also much less than 80 million.

          One thing for sure: the leaked water cannot be more radioactive than the water inside the tank.

          • Eamon says:

            Thanks for that link Alessandro.

            I found the Japanese version of that report…and it gives the same data, exponents and numbers – but states that the units are in Bq/cm3:

            http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/south_discharge_130826-1j.pdf

            As for whether the water is from inside the tank or from the vicinity, it is hard to say – Japanese can be an infuriatingly vague language. As it is, “No.5タンク水” could mean either.

            As for which units are correct – I wish it were the Bq/l ones, but given the statements on the risks to the workers in the immediate area of the leak we should err on the side of caution for now. That said, even the Bq/l release is nothing compared to what has gone before and that has had only scientifically measurable results. I’ll email TEPCO and see if I can get a clarification.

            As an aside, if TEPCO hadn’t been forced to expend time and effort on the “SFP4 is going to kill us all!” invented crisis, who would want to bet they would have had more staff free to monitor the tanks?

        • fasciated1 says:

          @Rod
          Here is a link to the original press release from Tepco.
          http://www.tepco.co.jp/cc/press/2013/1229852_5117.html

          From the link;
          “In addition, it is as follows: nuclide analysis results of water analyzed so far.

           4.6 × 10 ^ 1Bq/cm3: 134 cesium
           cesium 137: 1.0 × 10 ^ 2Bq/cm3
           131: less than detection limit (detection limit : 3.1 × 10 ^ 0Bq/cm3)
           Cobalt 60: 1.2 × 10 ^ 0Bq/cm3
           manganese 54: 1.9 × 10 ^ 0Bq/cm3
           antimony 125:7.1 × 10 ^ 1Bq/cm3
           all beta: 8.0 × 10 ^ 4Bq/cm3
           chlorine Concentration: 5200ppm”

          Doesn’t appear from these numbers that there is a unit conversion issue, and this is the Tepco press release, so I would agree that the level of scrutiny and fact checking is much higher than numbers buried in a table on page 5.

          When converted to Bq/l, the all beta count is equal to 80 million Bq/l. This is the same number reported by the media.

          The cesium 137 number seen here when converted to Bq/l is equal to 100,000 Bq/l. This is ten thousand times the legal drinking water limit for Cesium 137 in drinking water. I confirmed this from the Health Canada website on the Guidelines for safe drinking water and the level for artificial radionuclides was listed at 10Bq/l.

          80 million Bq/l means there are 80 million clicks per second on a geiger counter.
          Converted to counts per minute this water is registering;

          80 million counts per second x 60 seconds = 4.8 billion counts per minute.

          4.8 billion counts per minute.
          This is a staggering amount of radiation.

          • CW says:

            This measurement was taken from a pool of water .1 cubic meters in volume on the ground, and appears to be anomalous compared to all other water readings at the site. Until confirmed with other readings from the tank it’s very possible these readings come from cross-contamination from another area of the site, possibly tracked in on a worker’ s boot.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @fascinated1

            Based on the voluminous number of readings from all other locations, I believe that the particular sample described in that single press release is highly unrepresentative of the average content of the tanks. Tepco is a company that has experienced more than two years worth of focused demonization from both enemies and “friends” about its “lack of transparency.” It has decided to take a “worst case scenario” approach and treat the sample as if it actually says something about the potential magnitude of the radioactive material that might be released.

            I believe that the particular small puddle probably was contaminated. I do not have full details needed to make a complete diagnosis from 12,000 miles away, but my experience with holding tanks is that they often develop a sludge at the bottom as particulate material settles out of the water column.

            Similar scary reports have happened as a result of fish sampling. A small fish (29 cm long) that is a known bottom feeder showed up with what looked like a very high concentration of radioactive material that, when scaled to a tuna weighing a couple hundred kilograms, showed a very frightening possible release.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/fukushima-fish-2500-times-radiation-limit-nuclear-disaster_n_2536775.html

            No other fish have been found with that kind of concentration. I suspect that the small fish ate material that happened to contain a physically tiny, but quite radioactive, bit of cesium. After all, a single milligram of cesium-137 contains about 3E9 (3 billion) Bq of radioactivity. The quantity of cesium required to produce a concentration of 254,000 Bq per kg in a 2 kg fish is just 0.0002 milligrams. It would most likely be undetectable without magnification on a physical basis, but it sure is easy to find with a radiation detector.

            Hot particles really do exist; the material released from Fukushima Dai-ichi is not uniformly spread over all of the places that it could have reached. There are a finite number of particles, however, an a finite probability (very small) of encountering enough of them to cause any harm.

            It is quite unproductive, unless your goal is to frighten people about nuclear energy, to pretend that the single measurement means there is a risk worth worrying about.

          • ddpalmer says:

            “80 million Bq/l means there are 80 million clicks per second on a geiger counter.”

            You have a 100% efficient Geiger counter? Where did you get it because I want one.

  14. Todd in Japan says:

    I thought the NY Times article on this a few days ago was also bad but the concluding quote is interesting.

    Here is the opening:

    “The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear power plant has sounded the alarm on the gravity of the deepening crisis of containment at the coastal site, saying there are more than 200,000 tonnes of radioactive water in makeshift tanks vulnerable to leaks, with no reliable way to check on them or anywhere to transfer the water.

    The disclosures on Friday add to a long list of recent mishaps, leaks and breakdowns that have underscored grave vulnerabilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site more than two years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at three reactors.”

    It closes with a quote from a Japanese scientist:

    Michio Aoyama, a scientist at the Meteorological Research Institute was quoted to have said: “That prospect [of leakage into the ocean] scares me. It is the ultimate worst case scenario.”

    Notice that he didn’t explain why.

    I looked him up, and he has worked with two American scientists on radiation levels in the ocean after the accident. One of the Americans said after a 2011 study that there was no threat to fish or humans. That was before the recent alarmism, but can anyone explain why Aoyama would make such an alarmist statement?

    1) He measures radiation but doesn’t understand health physics at all.

    2) He knows he is talking to the NY Times so wants to make a bold statement because…

    3) … he is anti-nuclear. (I’m not sure he is.)

    It isn’t very difficult to find anti-nuclear scientists in Japan. The NY Times found one who has done some sort of nuclear science at Kyoto University (he is in his 60s and was never promoted beyond assistant professor) and quoted his alarmism eight times in 2011 and 2012.

    • JMS says:

      @Todd in Japan. I would say the answer is #1) he’s good at measuring nutrients and chemicals in the ocean but doesn’t have the necessary training or experience to offer a credible scientific opinion on their biological effects in the environment. That why it scares him. It’s an unknown to him. It’s not within his expertise.

      • Jeff Walther says:

        Another possibility is that he’s part of Japan’s wind lobby. They have one. Only days after the disaster, there was some joker from Japan’s wind association (don’t remember the proper noun) claiming that Japan has plenty of wind available to satisfy all of its energy needs.

        For some reason meteorologists often seem to end up in those wind advocacy groups.

      • jmdesp says:

        I’m not in Japan at the moment, so it’s hard to have a first hand opinion, but I will dare to say I know it quite a bit, and try to bring some insight.

        The explanation might lie instead with the fact that in Japan, only perfection is acceptable. Nobody wants to hear excuses about why you failed, you just *had* to make it work. The word to excuse yourself is to say you have no excuse at all : “moushiwake nai”. If you try to offer explanations for what went wrong, you’ll very certainly get an upset retort that you shouldn’t try to make excuses : “iiwake shinai”.

        So even if that meteorologist knows releasing those radiations wouldn’t really have a significant sanitary impact, he still deeply feels how unacceptable it’d be to come to that, especially since everybody is so upset with the radiation that was already released, and just doesn’t want to hear the story of more radiation going to sea, whatever the amount.

        At the end calling it, the “ultimate worst” is very likely a bad idea. But not calling it that also would probably for him convey the idea that “well it’s OK to add more radiations, who cares ?”.

    • James Greenidge says:

      Todd, how are pro-nuclear groups and blogs in Japan keeping their heads above torches and pitchforks over there? Just how much pro-nuclear education is the public getting there, forget any media rebutting??

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  15. susie t. gibbs says:

    I understood that it was 300 tons/day?

    Also, a person drinking water isn’t only getting radiation exposure from the water. You’re also getting it from the fish you eat, the plants watered by the rain from the sea, the wind, the showers you take, the water you wash your hands with etc. (No purification system is perfect.) And the effect is cumulative over time. Long before the half-life is reached, the exposure to billions of people, plants and animals will be multiplied many times and unfortunately, the effects could be 15-20 years in the making (cancer, etc). How do we prepare ourselves for a cancer epidemic 15-20 years from now when we can’t even address the diabetes pandemic today?

    How do you explain the increased level of hot particle contamination being experienced along the West Coat? How is this not alarming?

    Thanks for helping answer these questions! Very interesting evaluation!

    • Daniel says:

      @ Susie,

      There are numerous places in hte world where radiation is way higher than Fukushima. People in Ramsar, Iran have all been exposed to high levels of radiation for thousands of year.

      No medic alert bracelets on anyone !

    • Alessandro says:

      I understand your concern, but keep in mind that nothing in life is always bad or always good. Dose makes the poison.
      What we are trying to do here is get some real numbers, and quantify the risks. Radiation can cause cancer only if we are exposed to too much of it. The Sievert unit can help us understand the real risks when we talk about radiation.

      Every single living being is exposed to ionizing radiation all the time, and adding just a bit more won’t hurt. Adding too much will, but if you look at the numbers you will see that we are, everyday, exposed to FAR more dangerous substances, including pollution, food and chemicals that can increase our chance of developing cancer much more that any radiation from nuclear accidents will.

      Remember, risk is a matter of numbers, not absolutes.

    • Brian Mays says:

      And the effect is cumulative over time. Long before the half-life is reached, the exposure to billions of people, plants and animals will be multiplied many times and unfortunately, the effects could be 15-20 years in the making (cancer, etc).

      Susie – Radioactive material with a long radiological half-life and a short biological half-life (i.e., the amount time before you excrete most of it) carries very little risk, because the material is gone before it has a significant probability of decaying and doing any damage.

      The highly radioactive nuclides from the accident also have very short half-lives, and all of this material is long gone by now.

      When it comes to exposure to radiation, all credible scientific bodies agree that the dose rate matters. Low doses and low dose rates carry less risk than high, acute exposures to radiation (say from an atomic bomb blast). At extremely low doses, the risks are very uncertain, and thus far, the scientific community has relied on mere guesses and assumptions to quantify these risks.

      Trivially small effects — even when multiplied many times — are still trivially small effects.

      How do we prepare ourselves for a cancer epidemic 15-20 years from now when we can’t even address the diabetes pandemic today?

      There will be no “cancer epidemic” from the Fukushima accident. The recent problems with diabetes are directly linked with the recent problems with obesity. If you’re worried about your health, my advice is to limit how much you eat and get regular exercise.

      How do you explain the increased level of hot particle contamination being experienced along the West Coat? How is this not alarming?

      It’s not alarming, because it is not true.

      This “hot particle” nonsense is nothing more than irresponsible fearmongering by unscrupulous charlatans, who are exploiting this accident to push their long-held agenda. The idea of “hot particle contamination” is useful for these bastards, because it sounds very scary and poor laymen have no idea what it means. In the world outside of anti-nuclear propaganda, however, it was merely a hypothesis that was put forward by scientists many years ago, but it didn’t pan out. In the real world, there is no risk from these fictitious “hot particles.”

    • DRYAN says:

      Hot Particle contamination on the west coast?? Do you even know what a hot particle is? Of course you don’t it is obvious by your answer. Cancer epidemic in 15-20 years, wait wasn’t Chernobyl 27 years ago and a much more devastating release than Fukushima, were is that cancer epidemic????
      I don’t even know how to address the absolutely ridiculous first statement. I’ll just pick the one about rain from the sea. The cesium in the water does not evaporate with the water and rise as a vapor to then return to the earth. Now if it were tritium it could but then again we already have that every time it rains anywhere on the planet because of the production of tritium in the upper atmosphere do to cosmic radiation.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Dryan

        You are obviously new here. One of the rules that we try to follow is to assume that people with questions are honest and trying to learn. We do not heckle or talk down to anyone.

        This is not the Huffington Post.

    • Keith Pickering says:

      Chernobyl released far more radiation that Fukushima ever will. That was 25 years ago, and we’re still waiting for the supposed cancer epidemic to materialize. More than half a million Chernobyl radiation cleanup workers (or liquidators) were exposed to typically 100 to 200 mSv (compared to a Fukushima dose of about 1 to 10 mSv in the most contaminated areas). And here we are, 25 years later, and the excess cancer death rate among the Chernobyl liquidators is still statistically indistinguishable from zero.

      The fact is that current radiation standards are not based on scientific evidence. They are based on highly conservative assumptions that were made 50 years ago in the absence of scientific evidence. And we now know that those assumptions were just plain wrong.

      • David Walters says:

        Hi Keith!
        No…not indistinguishable for ‘zero’ indistinguishable from average. As cancer is what kills most people in the world, and that this rate hasn’t changed, even for Chernobyl cleanup workers (who died of cancer before, during and after their jobs) means that the radiation contributed zero to any increase in cancer.

        David

        • Keith Pickering says:

          Hi David!

          Yes, that’s why I said the excess cancer deaths were statistically indistinguishable from zero.

  16. susie t. gibbs says:

    Wow, great responses! Thanks for the prompt replies that make quite a lot of sense!

  17. susie t. gibbs says:

    Hi Dryan,

    Thanks for you very superior attitude and making me feel a complete douche for daring to bother you all with my concerns. Clearly I do not have your high level of understanding of such matters (which is why I asked you super-brains in the first place) the questions I asked, extending myself and risking looking ridiculous in order to have fears allayed. (Believe me, there are WAY more “idiots like me” out there than superior-beings such as yourself…our powers of relaying information are far greater. So it’s probably better for us to have accurate information to relay. Doncha think?)

    Excellent work you did this morning Dryan. Cudos.

    Sincerely,

    Douche for the Day

    • susie t. gibbs says:

      And btw, I don’t make this stuff up. I read several articles discussing the hot-particle contamination being measured and about it going up after the accident (and yes, just because I read something on twitter or facebook doesn’t make it so… ;) Right Dryan?)

      (OK, sigh, I didn’t really read it on fb or twitter…maybe it was in Women’s Day? Gosh I can’t worry my pretty little head about such fluff like sources or anything!)

      • Smilin Joe Fission says:

        Susie,

        Please excuse Dryran’s response. We have a few trolls that test everyone’s patients here so when someone comments with points that are almost the exact talking points of these trolls some commenters can respond in a non respectful manner.

        I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we are genuinely happy to educate those who want to understand that which they do not yet, like yourself. I know that I love explaining radiation and nuclear fission in general to anyone curious enough to listen.

        Please do not be discouraged by the initial response you got from Dryran and keep asking any questions you have.

  18. Ryan K says:

    Hey, i just wanted to say thank you to all who is trying to alleviate some of the fear mongering.
    When i look up Fukushima all i see is imminent danger of this that and the other. I have an honest question about the wildlife in the pacific ocean. Apparently animals in Germany are still effected by Chernobyl, to the point where Wild Boars cannot be eaten, http://news.discovery.com/animals/radioactive-wild-boars-increase-in-number.htm
    I was wondering if we will see that in Tuna/Salmon or other fish in the ocean due to some of the leaking. Also if there is any merit to this Tidal map showing dilution isn’t going to happen as we think http://www.globalresearch.ca/west-coast-of-north-america-to-be-hit-hard-by-fukushima-radiation/5346470
    sorry if i am uninformed.

    • jmdesp says:

      Ryan, even in the Chernobyl area, mammals (boars, horses, wolves) are not actually negatively affected by radiation, sees http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/nuclear_power/2013/01/wildlife_in_chernobyl_debate_over_mutations_and_populations_of_plants_and.single.html

      The meat of those boars is above the legal regulatory limits for humans consumption. But if I were to eat it everyday, would there be any negative consequence for me ? The limit has been set so low that it’s very far from proven. The limit was actually 1000 Becquerel before Chernobyl, and there no scientific reason to believe that level wasn’t adequate. Also read again; what does this articles says actually ? That the boars are thriving, and getting more and more numerous ! They really don’t seem to be negatively affected at all.

      About the contamination of fish, you should read this other article : http://deepseanews.com/2012/06/detectable-but-not-hazardous-radioactive-marine-life-of-fukushima/
      It shows the level of radiation from Fukushima in the fish is actually only 10-30% of the level of radioactivity already naturally occurring in them, due to naturally radioactive potassium, as well as polonium and lead 210, which are naturally occurring in the sea water, and tends to accumulate in high level carnivorous fishes. Is there a direct contradiction between this and your initial article ? Actually not, what that article says is just that some radioactive material crosses the ocean, and the radiation will not be perfectly even. When it says the level is 4000 above normal, it’s talking about the cesium level, which can easily become 4000 times higher, because there was basically none initially. But radioactivity was already present in the fish from other element, and as a whole, it didn’t increase significantly at all.
      There is one point in the article that is factually incorrect. It’s the claim that the long half life of cesium-137 means more damage to human. When an area is highly contaminated, it does means a longer wait until the activity lowers, but it does not mean more damage. What counts instead for damage is how long it stays inside your body. If this were not the case, potassium which has a half life of 1.3 billions years would be incredibly dangerous :-) And in fact as Potassium and Cesium have very similar chemical properties, they are chemical analogs, they both stay just as long in you body. So at a similar level of Becquerel activity, one does not do more damage than the other.

      Would I feel perfectly safe eating those fish ? Not really but for a reason that has no link with radiation. High level carnivorous fish tends to accumulate all pollutants from the sea, and the one that are actually dangerous are the heavy metals. Mercury in tuna is a health concern for pregnant women who should take car of eating only limited amount of it.

      • Ryan K says:

        Thank you for taking your time to get back to me. I really appreciate it.

        • Ryan K says:

          It is just so frustrating when http://nodisinfo.com/Home/holy-fukushima-radiation-from-japan-is-already-killing-north-americans/#prettyPhoto pops up on facebook with such blatant lies and fear mongering. Who would have something to gain from telling people these lies? Thank you again!

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Ryan K

            The world’s oil and gas industry sold an extra $55 billion worth of fuel to Japan in 2012 because most of its reactors that could have been running were not. The fundamental reason was that people had been taught to be afraid. Does that give a partial answer to you question of “who wins?”

          • jmdesp says:

            I notice that the same site also published a story accusing the US government of being the real author of Sarin chemical gas attack in Syria, the result of a plan prepared since many month to kill Syrian civilians, claiming “Zionist” motive.

            At this stage, this becomes an exercise in using critical thinking skills to identify which sites on the Internet can claim even the smallest level of credibility.

          • jmdesp says:

            I realize after the fact that my comment might sound dismissive. It’s not the intend.
            It’s not easy to tell who to trust or not, especially when trying to get information on the Internet about something where you aren’t fortunate enough to have all the necessary background to analyze in detail what’s to be trusted or not.
            So it’s important, even if not natural for everybody, to learn to identify hints that show a site is not trustable. And here the signs that this site is totally cranks are quite obvious.

  19. Rick Maltese says:

    From what I’ve seen nobody has tackled explaining “cumulative dose” well enough to ease the minds of those concerned. Susie did a good job of showing her humble side in the end but what can we say about cumulative dose. The idea of our bodies storing radiation sounds even better than batteries that lose their charge eventually. I suppose the amount of radiation we are exposed to daily keeps building up over our entire lives and accumulating. Sounds very much like we should stop breathing just to be safe.

    • Rick Maltese says:

      And that we get “hotter” the older we get.

      • susie t. gibbs says:

        LOL. And speaking from the perspective of someone who had 33 radiation treatments not too long ago, ever bit of additional radiation exposure is considered…

        • Rick Maltese says:

          Thanks for recognizing my comments were somewhat sarcastic. So you see first hand how nuclear science has its benefits. You are living proof.

          • susie t. gibbs says:

            Oh my, absolutely Rick!

            But even that point (nuclear science has its benefits), could be debated depending upon perspective.

            Just ask my breast cancer survivor friends who beat the disease for now only to lose the use of their arm, or their swallowing mechanism in their throat or functionality of their jaw as a result of RIBP (radiation-induced brachial plexopathy)–(or heck, why get so confusing…let’s just talk about radiation induced cardiomyopathy, cpd, etc that studies are showing begin as little as 6 months out from radiation treatment).

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Susie T. Gibbs

            Welcome. I apologize for Dryan.

            Do you have any information about the magnitude of the radiation doses that have caused the effects you are describing? It might help to add some numbers to put them in context with the doses that we are discussing here.

            As Paracelsus said several centuries ago – (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracelsus)

            German: Alle Ding’ sind Gift, und nichts ohn’ Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist.
            All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.

            As we say today – the dose makes the poison.

          • Rick Maltese says:

            There will always be tragedies in fighting cancer. But we must also remember the nuclear isotopes that either diagnose early or attack cancer cells locally and often effectively cure the cancer. This is different from external beam radiation treatment where radiation is directed from outside of the body.
            More info here http://www.medicalisotopes.org/

          • Daniel says:

            Nuclear medicine works. That’s is that ‘s all!

    • northcoast says:

      Actually a fellow named Eben McBurney Byers showed that it could be done. In 1927 Mr Byers started taking a radium containing patent medicine to treat lingering pain after an accident. Evidently he consumed enough in three years that he died of radiation poisoning in 1932. Radium is retained in the skeleton and has a relatively long biological half life. Workers painting watch dials in that era also suffered the effects of cumulative internal radiation doses.

  20. CW says:

    Rod, including medical exposure from x-rays background dose in the US is 6.24 mSv, so an American would have to chug more than 2L of Fukushima tankwater every day for a year to equal their annual background exposure.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_radiation

  21. Ruben Willmarth says:

    Well put as again Rod,
    Something I just read that helps put it in perspective, more than 50,000 Japanese were hospitalized with heat stroke, and 338 died. By my math, 121 had AC but didn’t use it. Likely due to efforts to conserve while all their nuclear plants are kept offline. That’s more than all the actual deaths from Chernobyl, nevermind Fukushima, in just this summer.
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130827_44.html

  22. Timothy Holmes says:

    Seems from the quote below, someone is mistaken!

    According to Gundersen, the deluge of toxic water into the Pacific has already contaminated the ocean and this will be the last year he eats west coast fish.
    Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_31/Fukushima-radioactive-leak-causes-the-sea-off-Japan-coast-to-boil-1867/?from=menu

  23. Michael Hogan says:

    Man you guys really don’t get it. This is t about math, it isn’t about technology, it’s about serial incompetence and institutional failure. We’re talking about storing water here. Not only couldn’t they do it without screwing up, they can’t figure out how to fix it. And TEPCO was touted by the US nuclear industry just a few years ago as a model for how the US nclear renaissance should be managed. Wake up and smell the roses – you’re focused on the wrong problem.

    • Rod Adams says:

      No. I get it, alright.

      You and your ilk care nothing about facts and everything about impressions. You’re offended that people with questioning attitudes and a combination of technical, political, and financial competence are refusing to accept efforts to demonized a reasonably competent nuclear plant owner/operator.

      There is no danger at Fukushima. There is a difficult cleanup effort that will not affect the health of anyone who is not directly involved in site work. Even those people bear few, if any, risks.

      • Brian Mays says:

        Well said.

      • Billy says:

        Hello, I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. The facts are;
        1. We’ve been lied to about
        A. The severity of the situation.
        B. the amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere.
        C. The amount of radiation leaking into the pacific daily.
        Listen, the three Corium Blobs formulated by the THREE meltdowns are NOT being felt with and at least one for sure has burned through the floor of the reactor.
        The ground around reactor 4 is turning to mush due to the water backed up from the sea wall and reactor 4 is leaning. They are trying to shore it up currently.
        The spent fuel rods in 4 must be removed. This is a common practice with the facility in tact and done with precise computers. Now it must be done manually and with the slight mistake we could be in for a hell of a ride. The “MOX” fuel in the reactor 4 has a half life of 24,000 years and has enough radiation to times Chernobyl by 14,000. There are readings all over especially here in Alaska that are significantly higher than before the incident started.
        As for the comment of Radiation decaying as oppose to multiplying so we shouldn’t worry. Tell that the the people around Chernobyl or the local residents in Delta Alaska who have been feeling the side effects of radiation poisoning for generations. The radiation in the pacific may be far away at Japan but constantly gets pushed into the west coast of North America and builds there. For a minimum of 30 years before its half its original strength. I your pro nuclear. It has nothing to worry about than go eat the fish in the Bay outside of Fukushima and let us know how you feel in a while. There is a reason Japan has canceled all fishing. The fact is, this is a really scary situation and we better all embrace the fact that Nuclear power is to expensive in more ways than one. Hey bud, what do you suppose we continue to do with the waste??? Oh yea about the waste. You say that they run the “water” through a process to remove the radionuclides and there are none then……… Uh, for one it wasn’t working well and two it’s not even being used now. If that were the case, the readings at the leak sites wouldn’t be as high as they are. STOP LIEING to peoe easing they’re mind. Also, why had RAD NET shut down so many sites? What’s up with the radiation found in the milk in California? Your crazy bud.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Billy

          Thank you for visiting and exposing the emptiness and ignorance of the people who are anonymously pushing such nonsense on the internet. You might be more effective if you learn how to punctuate, spell, and construct sentences that make sense.

          You might also have more credibility if you pick a better screen name than “Billy” and pad your resume with more details than “Hello, I’ve been in the industry for 15 years.” For example, what is your educational level? What do you do in the industry? Have you proven to anyone that you know enough about what you are doing to be selected for positions of higher responsibility? Does anyone use your work as a reference?

          Feel free to stick around and suffer the slings and arrows of people who actually understand what they are talking about. Even though you have not demonstrated any capacity for learning or rational thought, others might learn something from the interaction.

          By the way, I respond far more gently to people who come here with questions and curiosity. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and share my hard earned knowledge with them for free.

          • Brian Mays says:

            You might be more effective if you learn how to punctuate, spell, and construct sentences that make sense.

            Oh Rod, you’re such an grammar snob. ;-) But yes, being able to organize one’s thoughts into paragraphs also would help both to get one’s message across and to convince others that one is not an idiot. Publishing an enumerated list with only one item (i.e., a “1.” but no “2.”) only reinforces the idiot hypothesis.

            I guess the standards for what constitutes acceptable writing at Harvard and MIT have really fallen to new lows — apparently, even the illiterate can now get a masters degree from these schools. Frankly, however, I’m surprised that Michael “Billy” Hogan stopped there. If he really things that your readers are so gullible, he should have just claimed to have a Nobel Prize. ;-)

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian Mays

            There is no evidence for the assumption that “Billy” and “Michael Hogan” have any relationship to each other. They are definitely not the same person.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Wow! So there are two people with trumped-up credentials, who write below what I consider to be a high-school level, and both of them happened to post comments here within a 90-minute time span, at night in the US?

            Who would have thought it? What an amazing coincidence!

      • Michael Hogan says:

        Don’t worry, big fella. Plenty of technical, political and financial competence here. Engineering, 30 years developing, financing building and operating large power plants (including a stint in GE’s Nuclear Division), Harvard MBA, masters degree from MIT in energy policy, past five years working with governments in Europe and the US on energy and climate policy. And no, you don’t get it. The problem with Fukushima – the problem faced by the commercial nuclear industry – is that a great number of people, probably most people, have come to believe that the institutions responsible for ensuring the safety of this magnificent human technological achievement simply cannot be trusted. Regardless of whether or not this particular incident (the water leakage problem) presents an immediate danger, it is simply Exhibit X in the long and oh so very sad tale of institutional failure and managerial incompetence that has dogged the commercial nuclear industry throughout its 55 year history. Your attempts to minimize the overall significance of the Fukushima accident is yet another example of that. Sure only a couple of people died (posters who said no one died are incorrect – two TEPCO workers died during the cleanup effort, but while tragic that’s beside the point), but there were three core meltdowns at Fukushima, TEPCO (and probably the Japanese government) knew that, and they lied about it for months, only coming clean days before international inspectors were due to visit the site. Korea’s vaunted nuclear industry/government complex, which I’ve been observing with interest in recent years because of its apparent ability to deliver first-world nuclear technology at third-world prices, has now been revealed to be a deeply compromised web of corruption, substandard material and construction work and government cover-up. It is also important to recognize, as you labor to assure people that nothing really bad actually happened as a result of the Fukushima accident, that had the wind been blowing from the northeast instead of the southwest over the course of the incident things could have turned out much differently. Technologists and other “rational” people (amongst whom I count myself, usually) are regularly dismayed by the failure of the general public to appreciate their carefully calculated explanations of why people shouldn’t be worried. They miss the point. People don’t trust the industry. And when you combine that entirely justified lack of trust with the consequences of what could happen (and will, someday, probably in China as they rush hellbent for leather to build nuclear plants to their usual standard), the fear that you find so irrational begins to look quite rational indeed. As someone with nearly four decades of experience in all aspects of the power industry and deeply committed to a transition to a low-carbon energy system, no one wishes more than I that it would be otherwise. But you can’t wish 55 years of demonstrated institutional incompetence away.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Michael Hogan

          Are you claiming that the nuclear industry is filled with somehow uniquely untrustworthy human beings so that it is worse on that measure than its competitors in the coal, oil, gas, hydro, wind, solar, and biomass industries? Speaking as a nuclear professional who has been inculcated since the very beginning of my nuclear energy career with the importance of taking personal responsibility for safety, having a questioning attitude, and displaying the utmost integrity with every decision and conversation about the power system that we have been trained to operate and maintain, I find that incredibly difficult to believe.

          I do, however, find it very easy to believe that businessmen who have been trained in the Milton Freedman school of economics, which makes the claim that the only purpose for a company is to optimize its own profitability, can look askance at nuclear energy technology as an enormous threat to their purpose. Traditional energy suppliers and their coterie of supporting industries and individuals do not like it when energy is abundant and prices are low. They prefer to operate in a supply constrained environment where people will pay whatever “the market” requires them to pay.

          You claim a lot of credentials related to energy, but you did not reveal which source of energy pays your bills and ensures that your investments are moneymakers.

          (Note: There is nothing wrong with making money. I proudly claim my day job employment as a responsible member of the B&W mPowerTM technology development team. I also admit that a reasonably significant portion of my personal investment portfolio is invested in stocks that will prosper as nuclear energy technology prospers. Those investments have not been doing so well recently, but that is okay for me. I have no intention of selling anytime soon. I remain a steady buyer as prices remain suppressed by irrational fear.)

          Don’t try to baffle or claim to be a nuclear energy supporter by virtue of a “stint in GE’s Nuclear Division”. That company, by the way, is a long time member of what I call the energy Establishment. It has a tiny nuclear energy business with about $1 billion in annual revenue from selling nuclear fuel and servicing plants built more than 30 years ago. That is an incredibly minor operation for a company with annual revenues in excess of $150 billion.

          Jeff Immelt really wanted to get rid of nuclear altogether, but could not find a buyer for the division. (I have that from his own mouth in a recorded speech made at the American Nuclear Society winter meeting several years ago.)

          My guess is that you are a promoter of the false notion that new technologies in oil and gas production will provide plenty of energy for the foreseeable future. You are most likely someone who wants the rest of us to believe that we have nothing to worry about from the effects of dumping 30 billion tons of CO2 per year into our shared atmosphere.

          • Michael Hogan says:

            Well, the “ilk” shoe now appears to be on the other foot. My “inclinations” are very much in the public domain – just check out the Regulatory Assistance Project web site (I’m a senior advisor to RAP) or the http://www.roadmap2050.eu website (a project I ran as the director of the European Climate Foundation’s Power Program). While I am intimately familiar with the oil and gas industry I am hardly a promoter of any of their “notions.” Frankly, you’re sounding a little desperate and are striking out. I empathize with that instinct – unfortunately it doesn’t get you anywhere. As for singling out the nuclear industry, you can feel as offended as you want but the facts are what they are. You may well be – in fact, probably are – a thoroughly honorable and responsible individual – as are the vast majority of individuals in the nuclear industry – but that’s really beside the point. Institutional failures (as anyone who studies social groups will tell you) have nothing to do with the morality of the individual members of the group but rather have everything to do with group dynamics. Just to take another recent – and thoroughly remarkable – example, EdF undertood the Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland knowing full well that the world would be watching whether or not their new EPR technology would live up to the hype. The result – so far – is a dramatic increase in cost and delay in completion owing to a number of remarkably avoidable mistakes, possibly the most egregious of which was the fact that they screwed up the foundation pour, requiring that they jackhammer out the entire foundation and replace it. The project is now expected to cost several times as much as the original estimate (an all too common experience with commercial nuclear projects). I’ve personally been responsible for the construction of 14 large power plants over the past thirty years – more than all but a very small handful of utility executives – and I’ve NEVER had to re-do a foundation, for ANYTHING. Was it really all that difficult for EdF – arguably the world’s preeminent nuclear technology company – to manage to build their showpiece EPR without screwing it up so spectacularly? Are the individual technologists at EdF immoral or even incompetent? I would never even suggest that that is the case, because I simply don’t know. What I do know – and what is inarguable from the available evidence – is that EdF as an institution has failed spectacularly, as has TEPCO, as has the Japanese government, as has KEPCO and the Korean government, and on and on and on. And the ongoing revelations at Fukushima just keep confirming my point.

  24. JR Miles says:

    I can’t thank Rod, and the rest of you contributors, for putting this information out there.

    I am not the type most of you would refer to a pro-nuclear, mostly because I tend to keep my mouth SHUT when I don’t know what I’m talking about and also because I have a pretty dismal view of human nature.

    As much as I trust most of the people I know, I don’t tend trust those that I don’t know. I believe that fear and greed are the two most powerful motivators around, and, unfortunately, I think I’m typical of most sheeple in that respect. We don’t trust people in power to act ethically, and why should we. Look at all the crap this country has been dragged through in the last 60 years. Most of American politics seems to be a power struggle between conflicting financial interests. Who can we trust, especially when so much money is involved?(ever seen the 1976 movie “The Network”?)

    I do, fortunately, come from a family of academics and, also surprisingly fortunate, have been the victim of demonization myself. I mention all of this because I want you to know I’m sympathetic when I say smart people can be pretty stupid. Folks like Susie G. and I may not be rocket scientists, but that doesn’t mean we’re idiots.

    Have any of you ever tried to train a pig to pull a sled? Now, I could try to explain how to do it. Ways to motivate a pig, how to get a pig to bond to you, etc., etc., but I’d probably just be wasting breath. (How about birthing a calf? Much easier) So, imagine trying to take all of your education, knowledge, and life experience, bundling it up into three pages and then trying to explain it to a layman.

    Several years ago I worked with an organization in Hawaii that did community outreach trying to get people to eat better. After a few days this young local boy pulled aside one of our workers and said, “Hey, you can’t go around saying this is bad, and that is bad. You don’t go around and say eating pork and white rice are bad, my tutu (grandmother) fed us pork and rice, and she’s not a bad person. You got to tell people this is good, and this is better.” That’s what I mean by smart people can be stupid too. (Dryan)

    Rod has done a great job using mostly just common sense to explain his position. He’s made attempts to address peoples issues on his sources and been for coming about the reliability of those sources. It is obvious from his earnestness that he is acting in good faith. And people respond to that, even if they can’t quite grasp the specifics of the information he is putting out there.

    Now all that said, I’m not really pro-nuclear. I’m not really pro anything, I’m a conservative yankee, or pragmatic liberal, depending on who it is that doesn’t like my opinion. I see atomic energy as the best we can do with what we have to work with. It’s safer than most of the alternatives, and doesn’t require a some fantastical change in our social structure.

    Now, if all you smart kids could put your heads together and and make a simple chart, or nukes for dummies page, like this one- http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1174 – for the rest of us, it would really be appreciated.

    • James Greenidge says:

      Greetings JR Miles!

      I think the best immediate and “easiest” way for you (and Suzy and Mauigirl, etc,) to make your mark in this crucial issue is to re-visit all those FUD-blogs you surfed and relate to them your story and hopefully your reason and logic snowballs over all the fear and uncritical thinking there. Just watch out because the hard-cores will smear you as worst than a turncoat.

      My best of luck.

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  25. Mauigirl says:

    Thank you for writing this article. The talk and concern was becoming alarming. However, when I did some reading and research, what I found seemed unreliable and the images were definitely photoshopped. I had already come to my own conclusion that it probably wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but your article has laid to rest any lingering worries I might have had. Thanks again.

  26. JR Miles says:

    Rod,

    Billy may be a crank, but after re-reading my previous post I’d have give him a little leeway for typos. I had started mine before bed, finished it before my morning coffee, and posted it after work, (so definitely not my best work) but I don’t see you jumping down my throat about it.

    I can completely understand how irritation can build up. Repeating oneself again, and again, and again, to people who are capable (possibly) of comprehension but are too attached to their beliefs can feel a bit like beating your head against a wall.

    It’s okay to get angry, I certainly do about some things specific to my occupation/situation, but when I’m working my agenda I try to remember that I’m not preaching to the choir, nor am I trying to convert the those who have a conflicting agenda. I am trying to educate the general public about why the information I’m giving them is important.

    I take all that frustration and bitch to my wife about work, or get together with co-workers to talk story about all the idiots, but when I’m doing outreach I try to keep it civil. I do this because the people I’m talking, the folks I’m trying to educate, are already fearful. It’s been my experience that any perceived hostility is a huge put off.

    It looks like 90% of the folks that post here are already pretty savvy when it comes to atomic energy. Those folks are the choir, it’s the ignorant people, like me, you have to work with.

    I was an easy convert. I started fact checking Facebook posts months ago and realized the majority were at least half BS, and most of the rest were 100% fabrications. Most folks don’t have the type of education that taught them discernment, and unfortunately that makes them a little gullible. Try to be patient. Remember that your message is what’s important. When someone post a bunch a crap, point out the smell without focusing on the asshole it came out of.

    Maybe you, and this blog, will be the catalyst for a few people like me. People that will encourage others to use their common sense and critical thinking skills too.

    Believe me, I get it. And this isn’t a dig. If I didn’t support you, and loath alarmist propaganda, would have bothered to write any of this?

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