1. The Chairman is starting to make mental associations like the Germans and Japanese have done regarding what happened March 11 of 2 years ago.

    So why don’t we oblige her and suggest that she evacuates Denver?

    If I reckon properly, Denver has some spots that are more radioactive than Fukushima. So for the sake of intellectual integrity, why don’t she start an ‘evacuate Denver’ campaign.

    Well, maybe not. rationality can only be used when it serves one’s purpose I guess.

    By the way, would anyone have precise and fresh readings on Denver’s radioactivity and the levels found in the evacuated zones near Fukushima.

    The new Japan PM, who is pro nuclear, should have a ministry occupy Fukushima right outside the damaged reactor. The ministry of ‘get real people around the world’ or some other idiotic name that would shock.

    1. A good communications tool would be a map of Japan with isodose (1-yr doses) lines with values relative to background levels in Denver. Then superimpose on top the mandatory evacuation boundaries.

    2. why don’t we oblige her and suggest that she evacuates Denver?

      Good idea!  I did a little searching and found a page claiming that Denver residents get 11-odd mSv/yr from the environment, 10 and a fraction from radon and the rest from cosmic rays, gammas from the earth and internal exposure.

      Sadly, all the info I can find on Fukushima radiation maps show soil abundances in Bq/kg, not the resulting exposure levels in mSv/yr.  Translating between these looks like it needs some expertise.

      1. There’s a map here:


        Though it is a bit old (today’s exposure is less due to Cs-134’s short half life).

        The biggest number is 91 microsieverts per hour, which is 800 mSv/year.

        This is similar to the biggest number in Brazil beaches and in Ramsar, Iran:


        The beaches are much more dangerous, though, as bioaccumulating radon and thoron are involved. Cesium, more than 99% of the contamination around Fukushima, doesn’t bioaccumulate.

        Strangely, there are no plans from politicians or regulations to evacuate the beaches. In fact, people go there unshielded, removing their clothes, and sit down on the radioactive sand!

        1. If we assume that the optimum is roughly 50 mSv/yr, areas from the green zone up to about the middle of the yellow zone aren’t just safe, they’re better than the rest of Japan.  The entire area is perfectly safe for occasional exposure.  Rather, it was then, and is even more so today.  In a few years it should all be safe for continuous exposure.

          It’s fascinating that the map doesn’t even extend to Onagawa.

          1. Hi EP, I found a more recent dose map:


            From February this year. The highest reading now is 19 microsieverts per hour, around 166 mSv/year.

            This is dropping remarkably fast, a factor of almost 5 in roughly a year.

            Since February was almost a year ago now, all values should be under 100 mSv/year (the limit where international studies have been able to find statistically significant cancer effects).

            Clearly everyone should be allowed home immediately!

          2. The highest reading now is 19 microsieverts per hour

            No it’s not; the red area still indicates greater than 19, it’s just a lot smaller than before.

            Clearly everyone should be allowed home immediately!

            People whose homes are in red areas should be given continued compensation, but IMO aside from marking hot spots no further action is required besides “use at your own risk”.

          3. Caveat: radiation levels measured “one meter above the ground” may differ from the levels experienced by people living there — playing on the grass, planting gardens in the ground, etc.

      2. “Engineer-Poet
        December 29, 2012 at 1:21 PM
        People whose homes are in red areas should be given continued compensation, but IMO aside from marking hot spots no further action is required besides “use at your own risk”.

        Does anyone remember Love Canal? You STILL can’t go back home there!, just like the ghost towns in Pa(?) and W.Va(?) with 50-year-old coal fires still roaring deep beneath?

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

        1. Does anyone remember Love Canal? You STILL can’t go back home there!

          The vastly different dose/response curves of dioxins, PCBs and the like is why low-level radiation is preferable to even the heavy metals in coal ash.

    3. Dr. Helen Caldicott argues that we SHOULD evacuate Denver. Hey, what if she’s right?

  2. I know this is pedantic, and missing the larger point (you already got that, Rod, thank you), but is it too much for the chair of the NRC to know the difference between radiation and radioactivity?

    Just look at the end of the first paragraph: “. . . because of the radiation that escaped these reactors.” That radiation is gone long ago — those photons, alphas and betas were long ago absorbed. The radioactive substances are still there — cesium, etc. If the NRC can’t tell the difference, why should we trust them to do anything right?

      1. I know it sounds crazy, but that should be a T-shirt logo! “High Radiation: Evacuate Denver NOW!!” Reverse psychology enlightenment! Hey, if murderous scum like Che can still score public and media attention, why not?

        Have a Happy New Year All!

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

  3. Artificial vs. natural radioactivity

    Whenever I point out, that the radioactivity around Fukushima is lower than the natural in many other places, people tell me, artificial would be worse.

    What would you tell them to refute that?

    Thanks, Daddeldu

        1. Radium-226 — one of the most dangerous of all radioactive isotopes — is entirely “natural”.

          1. In fact, adding up all natural background radiation over the world’s population, we get a figure of 3 mSv/year * 7 billion = 21 billion millisieverts.

            The linear no threshold model predicts that for every 20 Sv of collective dose, there will be 1 excess fatality.

            Therefore, the LNT predicts that 1 million people will die from this year’s natural background radiation.

            1 million dead. The sun alone must be killing over 100,000 per year.

            If that doesn’t prove the absurdity of LNT, nothing will.

  4. Seasons Greetings!

    This article is way too candid and perceptive to stay in U.S. blog circles! Can anyone in Japan with Rod’s permission please cut/paste reprint this in comment sections or op eds of Japanese media sites and report on their takes on it? Thanks!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  5. Now we know MacFarlane is as bad or worse than we expected. She seems to have swallowed hook, line and sinker the anti-nukes take on Fukushima.

    How do we get her to read your blog Rod? You are the best informed person to help open her eyes. You also have a respectable group of followers and commenters that could help enlighten her. It’s the same problem we often make, that is, that politicians don’t consult the experts nearly enough.

    1. A short while ago, I watched an interview on Fukushima where MacFarlane was asked to talk about the nuclear tragedy at Fukushima.

      She still did not get at that point that it was a tsunami that was the source of the destruction. I had the impression that she thought that those nuclear plants blew up and created the disaster that killed 10,000 Japanese.

      Please, someone send help to the NRC. maybe if someone would shake her hand, some blood could make its way to her brain.

      1. Dan, I would’ve LOL weren’t you so rightly grave about it! Truth behind wit! This is another pricey nugget that needs re-posting at the NRC blog to get “her” attention (maybe)! Can you swing that? Thanks!

        Seasons Greetings!

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

  6. Rod this is a very important point you raise here. Most of the population will side with the establishment view here as that is what we have been conditioned to accept. This has happened throughout history, and every now and again someone raises their head up and say “hey this is not right, it makes no sense”. The establishment usually tries to shoot that person down and will if necessary bring out a long list of “experts” with PhD’s. This is the “appeal to authority” defence and you have an uphill struggle against this.

    Anyone with an independent and enquiring mind who looks at any of the data can see that the linear no threshold (LNT) model for estimating the cancer risk from low dose radiation doesn’t hold up. But it is a tool the establishment can easily hide behind so that they don’t have to make a decision. Perhaps its all the litigation that surrounds these issues. Supporting is something the environmental lobby loves to push a thing called the precautionary principle. Better to be safe than sorry. Zero risk.

    The ultimate manifestation this nonsense is we end up unable to do anything. The people will rise against the establishment in time and we will start over again. That process has started in Europe, but is not being reported via the legacy media, so people in the US have no sense of what is actually going on in Europe at present. There are many parallels in our world that are exactly the same as you describe here. I have been arguing my case about another also. The root cause of this behaviour is a lack of real political accountability.

    This is not the post to go into it all, but the US, Europe and Japan all suffer the same disease at present. The financial systems are going to rack and ruin as a result. We need some enlightened leaders I think.

    1. @Peter Geany

      “The ultimate manifestation this nonsense is we end up unable to do anything.”

      I view the Precautionary Principle as one more tool of The Establishment. Following it does not mean that we are unable to do anything, after all, there are about 6 billion people on the planet that are doing something every waking minute of every day. Instead, what the Precautionary Principle is designed to ensure is that we have a lot of difficulty doing anything NEW that upsets the status quo and the Establishment interests.

      It is not a perfect defense; innovation can and does occur. It is just not easy and it takes a good deal of patient effort by people who are not interested in short term gains.

      1. “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”- Machiavelli (1469-1527)


  7. Spudbeach beat to the comment that nuclear safety experts should know the difference between radiation and radioactivity. There is too much of this loose terminology about and I would like to draw your attention to another example. There are many risk “experts” who cannot tell the difference between frequency and probability, in fact there are many places where these terms are presented as almost interchangeable. One doubts whether these experts really know what they are doing.

  8. @ Peter Geany

    I am curious as to what you perceive going on in Europe. My view is pretty darned depressing and would like a different one.

    Below are some thoughts on the precautionary principle. It is a tool for statism and is reprehensible from the standpoint of the suffering that it forces others to continue to endure.

    My chief critique of the Precautionary principle is that it assumes too much information and reverses the subtle requirement of the burden of proof. In conventional debate, or any discourse for that matter, including the court room, the burden of proof of a claim relies upon the individual making the accusation. The burden of proof is not upon the defendant it is upon the prosecution. In thought experiments with the precautionary principle, I found that it reverses this requirement by playing a slight linguistic trick. The structure of a good argument will have a series of well thought out rebuttals or counter arguments. It first requires this as a necessary condition for something to allow any action to occur. That in order to win the debate you have to provide all rebuttals a priori.

    It implicitly absolves the state from the need of supplying the burden of proof to substantiate a claim. The burden is forced upon the entrepreneur. Here I think this point is substantiated by claiming some set of knowledge outside of our experience that government is imbued with some ability to know what is best. Hayek called this the “fatal conceit of the pretense of knowledge.” Often times the government entities have even less information or expertise to dictate what the requirements are in addition of being made up of a sampling of individuals from a population of human beings that are for the lack of a better word, human and are fallible. Translating this logic back to the courtroom analogy, what are the risks of absolving the prosecution of the burden of proof? Carry this forward into policy and you will see why I think the precautionary principle is so vile.

    It acts to preserve or force an arbitrary social structure, by controlling which innovations are allowed and which are not by changing the burden of proof of favored technologies, effectively restricting the set of information that is allowed in the discourse in order to serve a social need.

    In everything that we do, There is success and failure. This is the very powerful weak condition of symmetry. Typically arguments for the precautionary principle cite the downsides, and not reference the upsides. The success that things have or failure is because of the benefit or lack of benefit that they have for the society. Success is determined by the amalgamated actions of individuals voting for or against some option that they have against some alternative. Yes coal is polluting. London in the 19th century is a great example here. Today we’ve cleaned it up considerably and are much more efficient in its consumption. Without coal would it have been possible to electrify the western world and create the industrial revolution? Did we pay for that pollution by making 19th century cities centers of death from respiratory ailments? But was the benefit more? Yes the poor were stuck burning coal in stoves breathing the smoke because they couldn’t afford a horse to leave the city, but weren’t they better off with a little more capital than the option of having less heat and less left over capital because wood was so expensive, wood that in the case of Britain came from the deforestation of the island? Coal singlehandedly saved the forests much like oil saved the whales. The environmental problems, other than local air quality, were not felt within the first century of its use. This is because of the concept of scale. As something becomes more prevalent and scales up its impact is more widely felt.

    The precautionary principle stops projects before they have an opportunity to scale large enough to even begin to have societal problems. It invokes a Malthusian view of the world. I think Malthus had it wrong, we are not in some zero sum game. As we gain knowledge and understanding we are better able to make the world around us provide us with more. We make the pie bigger through innovation, much like the progression in home heating from none, to animal dung, to wood, to coal, gas, to oil, to electric, to heat pumps. These advances allowed people to have more for less and each step has represented a successive decoupling of the economy from the environment, the Kuznets curve illustrates this effect. It is only by making the pie bigger that our standard for poverty today is much much different than most everywhere else on the planet or even for the majority of our country’s history.

    If our goal is to better the welfare of humanity while minimizing the impact on the planet, why do we want to restrict the one mechanism that we have for accomplishing this goal?

    1. The recautionary principle can be your friend if applied the right way. Thanks to several decades of atmospheric nuclear tests, we have a pretty good idea of the effects on the population of globally dispersing large quantities of radioactive fission products and minor actinides (bombs make more plutonium than they burn). On the other hand, we have no idea what the effects of rapid climate change will have on our modern industrialized population. They can range from the barely observable to the collapse of society as we know it. So based on what we know and don’t know, the precautionary principle pushes us onto the path of replacing fossil fuels with nuclear fission.

      1. I disagree. The precautionary principle undermines a much more important social structure, so while achieving a short term gain, it subtly restructures society preventing innovation. Innovation is the single thing which will make our lives better.

        I do think that AGW is a risk, I do not think that e precautionary principle is appropriate. It is used as a justification to destroy capital making us all worse off, destruction of capital necessitates capital replacement forcing higher marginal costs onto consumers.

        If nuclear is to be successful, it must do so on its own, and without using the precautionary principle as justification either for, what you suggest, or against, Helen Caldicott et al. If we regulated radiation based off of our knowledge and experience we would use a threshold model for dose response. A threshold dose response would eliminate all of the silliness in regulation that inserts delays, time value of money, and additional measures, increasing marginal costs. The precautionary principle is what makes nuclear more expensive. Address this and fossil fuels have no ability to compete because they lack the fundamental energy density of fissionable material.

  9. It’s very sad to hear this antinuclear unscientific ideology from the head of the biggest nuclear regulatory body in the world.

    It spells more years of nonsense policy in store for us all. And more coal burning with that.

    I’ll concede this much, though; while the disaster of Fukushima was fabricated – the evacuation wasn’t even based on radiation exposure (it was based on drawing a circle) – the design lessons from it are not.

    We all have to agree that putting all the diesel generators in the basement of a flooding prone plant, and then not having watertight doors on that basement, is a bad design choice.

    I disagree that the NRC is doing much for improving safety and incorporating the lessons. I read through several of the NRC documents. They are burdenous to read, generally not legible on their own, and focus too much on compliance with codes and regulations rather than focusing on simple functional safety (such as, let’s put a diesel generator on the top floor). I read through these design control documents etc. and they are a bunch of bureaucratic garbage lacking overview and common sense.

    Being involved in industrial safety myself, I see this all too often. Myopia on regulations and codes – and regulators that insist blindly on these codes and regulations, enforcing this culture of regulations – makes people oblivious to real safety and real common sense engineering.

    Being slow and bureaucratic does not improve safety. To the contrary, it is a serious safety problem!!! It is bureaucracy and regulation-mindsets that allow things like putting diesel generators in basements of flooding prone plants; I’m sure those diesel generators met all the codes and practices required. This is exactly what an NRC type organisation would allow, being unable to zoom out to see serious safety problems (in this case common mode failure from flooding).

    How does the NRC propose to deal with such false safety? Who is independently and critically reviewing the NRCs inner workings? Is there no oversight body that checks the NRCs effectiveness and efficiency? Clearly there must not be if they spend expensive time on reviewing things like 2 year blackout of all the USA.

    Personally I have no hope as long as the NRC is still around. It needs to be abolished and the AEC reinstated. Anything less won’t do; we’ll still be burning as much coal 50 years from now if the NRC remains in charge.

  10. Rod,

    I have been reading your blog since its inception, and have been reading the various articles posted on your site since 2002 in doing research on nuclear power. I’ve always been a major advocate of nuclear energy as the safest, most reliable, long-term emissions-free energy system, since I first read Cohen’s “Before its Too Late” in 1987 back in high school. I used to be a big advocate for PBMRs and similar reactors like the Adams Atomic Engine, with interest in GE PRISM technology, an apparent offshoot of the IFR.

    I particularly liked your idea of feeding spent LWR fuel to CANDU type reactors (though it would seem MAGNOX/UGG would be able to use the spent fuel as fuel directly) to get more energy out of the fuel.

    You were my go-to source during the accident, and I used some of your information to quell some fears and misinformation as best I could on my Facebook account at the time.

    But I do have a concern that the Fukushima Health Ministry has found that a large number of the children in the prefecture have developed 5mm nodules in their thyroids. I realize nodules are not necessarily cancer, but is this not a precursor to cancer?

    Thyroid cancer is easily treatable, but the development is worrisome. Was this expected given the doses, and the use of iodine and evacuations? I know that thyroid cancers are the primary epidemiological impact of Chernobyl, and have produced few fatalities.

    I don’t particularly think the Health Ministry is a scaremonger organization, and is simply reporting the findings so far. (Though admittedly scaremongers have harped on this finding). How does this affect the claim that there is no health impact from the accident?

    Just curious.

    I am of the opinion that research on new reactor types, (such as LFTRs, and lead-bismuth eutetic versions of the IFR given problems that liquid sodium has caused at the Montu(?) reactor in Japan and SuperPhenix in France) must go forward. I also think that older, more vulnerable reactors should be replaced with newer, safer models, such as the already approved AP-1000 and AP-600 with an eye to eventually switching over to breeders and advanced converter reactors as part of an overall overhaul of our power generation supply. Eventual meaning more or less rapid as I’m not sure burner reactors will be in the long run useful except as a source of fissionables for future reactors.

    And I must say, I never even thought of small reactors (aside from the apparent obvious safety factors in ease of cooling, smaller radioisotope source terms, etc.) until reading about the Adams Engine, and the successes of small reactors in the military, and on bases. I know from Greenhalgh’s “The Necessity for Nuclear Power” a wonderful sourcebook from my high school days that I bought up used as soon as I could my mittens on it, discussed an Asea-Brown-Boveri design for a small reactor to be used for municipal hot water and district heating, and the General Atomics MHTGR PBMR that raised some stir in the late 1980s was small in each of its modules. But it always seemed like everyone wanted to build bigger, and bigger reactors, and even modular ones were discussed as being built in groups roughly comparable to a 1000 MW station.

    1. You can find many articles from the typical scaremongers about thyroid issues associated with the releases from Fukushima Dai-ichi. I do not believe any of them based on the very low doses that reliable sources like Scientific Reports have published.


      There are also many reports of no impact after studying tens of thousands of “exposed” individuals.


      1. And this time around, Iodine pills were distributed with celerity. There shall be no thyroid issues in Japan.

        1. Daniel,

          Which is why I was surprised to see reports of thyroid issues. I knew the Iodine pills were distributed and that should have been sufficient prophylaxis as I understood it.

          1. The thyroid reports are rather vague. No actual cancer is detected, but there is talk about swelling of sorts.

            One wonders; taking prophylactic iodine may cause swelling of the thyroid if overdosed.

            Where’s a health physicist when you need one?

      2. Thanks for the links Rod!

        They were very helpful, especially the last one. It looks to be dealing with the same issues, as the 5mm nodules are mentioned in 400+ individuas, but one cancer, and much too soon to have been caused by the accident. The benign tumors is what I suspected the nodules could be.

        The “no impact” conclusion is what is most interesting.

        I’m also happy to see the first report giving some quantitative data on the exposures, which do indeed seem to be quite low.

  11. @ Cal Abel You are right to be pessimistic about Europe. But the make believe will end soon enough, but perhaps not soon enough for everyone. The EU you may or may not realise is the Soviet Union reincarnated, except it has a more benign outlook to foisting its system on those outside at present, perhaps because the “project” is not yet finished.

    Every country in the EU gets its laws and regulations from the EU and we are governed by an unelected elite in Brussels. No sane European would have voted for this and nor have they. For the most part it has been done by stealth and subterfuge. The Euro was to have been the crowning glory and be the last step before full political integration. I doubt many outside the EU have the first inkling just how oppressive this regime is, and how wasteful and unaccountable. And to clear the most misunderstood point, the EU is not and never has been a free trade area. It is a customs union.

    The UK is an ill fit with the EU, having had to give up all its trade agreements with the rest of the world and accept what the EU negotiates. And being an ill fit was why they didn’t join the Euro.

    What is happening today? Well the Euro has bankrupted the Mediterranean states and Ireland. Italy and Spain have a currency that suits Germany but is way over valued for them so they are going down the tube trying to become competitive. France is not far behind and currently has a clueless administration. Germany calls all the tunes because she made all the Money in the early to mid noughty’s, and risks losing everything if the EU breaks up.

    Up until now people have been bribed with money, cheap money that came either via personal borrowing that happened in the freer countries or jobs in the more socialist countries. Now the money has run out and every EU citizen is about to lose out.

    At one end the Germans who held down wages and saved will find the value of their savings destroyed, and at the other end we have Greece where have the county worked for the government and worker could retire on a huge pension at 55. They now find they have no pension and no prospect of work.

    In the UK the governing party the Tories are coming under huge pressure from their supporters to stop wasting money on climate mitigation, to stop wasting money on worthless benefits to cut back government and to leave the EU. They are in coalition however with a party that has promised the opposite. So whilst the UK has saved itself from the self-destruction of the Euro it suffers incoherence with it decision making especially energy. All the political elite across all parties in the EU think they can stimulate the economy by spending. None understand this never works and that to stimulate the economy they must first reduce the burden of regulation and tax on small businesses, as this is where heart of every economy beats. But exactly the opposite is happening so the economies continue down the plug hole. Yes loads of money is being printed a spent, but it is only going into the corporate world where it has no effect on the real economy.

    The situation in Greece and Spain and Portugal and soon I suspect Italy and the France is much worse that anyone imagines. The EU will not survive this as the rulers just as in the Soviet Union are completely un-accountable. It may all unravel in 1 week or 1 month or 6 moths or 1 year or perhaps 5 years. It all depends how far they can kick the can down the road. No decisions on fixing the Euro can be taken before the German elections next year. The Germans want a Banking Union before they pledge their money. That way they control the whole Eurozone. My view is it will all fall apart before this happens, but I have been wrong before, and amazed at what Europeans will put up with.

    The mood for change is strongest in the UK and I suspect that once we find a leader with a spine that change will be swift. There are moves afoot to redefine democracy, and really put the people back in charge, and by inference leave the EU which is completely incompatible with democracy. No more pandering to agenda driven NGO’s such as Green Peace or the WWF or the UN and its agenda 21. The BBC has stumbled from one scandal to another recently and has been at the core of the propaganda campaign for the new progressive society. They are anti oil, anti nuclear, anti business anti everything, yet turn out dross for which we have to pay 140 pounds a year. I could go on and on. What happens in Britain may yet define what happens in Europe, but all the smart money is on Germany getting her banking Union and then full political Union. We will see.

  12. I disagree that the BBC turns out dross. Radio 3 is of a very high standard, Radio 4 and Radio 2 broadcast many excellent programs. Where on a US broadcasting station would you hear an hour long intelligent program about Chet Baker, for example? Where do you hear broadcasts of new serious music ?

    I don’t watch TV in real time, but without the BBC my DVD collection would be much thinner. There is a steady stream of world class documentary material.

    Well worth the license fee.


    I agree that the anti-nuclear greens are a problem, but the current UK government does seem to be slowly moving forward with new nuclear power stations. Ten years too late, but better late than never.


    As for the EU, if a United States of America works, why shouldn’t a United States of Europe? How can a divided continent compete with China or the US ?

    The EU is following the usual approach, also favoured by the Americans, of doing everything in all the possible wrong ways before reluctantly trying the right way. Germany’s anti-nuclear stance seems crazy, but I think they have to learn that it is wrong from practical experience.

    Which is worse, rule by unelected civil servants or rule by elected corrupt politicians ? Berlesconi was elected, and may well be elected again, democratically. Blair was elected.

    Democracy is much more difficult to do right than we thought.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts