***MEDIA ADVISORY*** NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING ON NRC RESPONSE TO RECENT JAPAN EVENT
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be briefed by its staff on the NRC’s response to the ongoing nuclear event in Japan in a public meeting on March 21 at 9 a.m. at NRC Headquarters, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. The commission meeting will be open to public observation and will be webcast at: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html.
Due to limited space availability, the meeting will be set up for a C-SPAN pool camera crew. Broadcast media outlets interested in receiving the feed should contact the network pool at 202-626-7966. For still photographers, this meeting will be pooled with AP, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg and Getty.
In order for us to try to ensure sufficient seating for reporters, please notify the Office of Public Affairs at the contact information above if you plan to attend. There will be additional space available in our auditorium on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Pool photographers will have limited space at the meeting in which to take photos. Movement must be kept to a minimum so as not to be distracting and entry into the inner well closest to the Commission briefing table is prohibited. Plan to arrive in advance of the meeting at the Marinelli Road entrance of the NRC with proper media credentials. The NRC offices are located across the street from the White Flint Metro station. Parking is available at the White Flint metro parking garage on Marinelli Road.
If I could attend the above event, I would ask how anyone who understands radiation, radioactive material, doses, dose rates, and contamination could consider an evacuation order to be a conservative approach focused on protecting the public. Putting large populations in motion is always a decision that carries significant potential for causing public harm; that is especially true in the middle of a widespread natural disaster that has strained transportation networks and the logistics support needed to provide food, water and gasoline to the people who have been ordered to move.
However, it is time for me to go back to my day job. You might notice a bit less responsiveness at Atomic Insights compared to what I have managed during the past 10 days; I used up 4.5 days worth of vacation time to do what I think still needs to be done. People need access to more accurate sources of information about the hazards of nuclear energy especially compared to the hazards of all other energy options.
Separate topic – Nuclear Exceptionalism
News flash – the Chiba refinery fire has been reported to have been extinguished as of 0342 EDT on March 21, 2011. That fire was initiated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake. That refinery is about 10-20 miles outside of Tokyo. It dumped thousands of tons of potential hazardous material into the atmosphere in Japan every day for ten solid days. The people who own that refinery could not approach the fire close enough to take effective action due to the high levels of radiation (thermal) being emitted from the fire. My guess is that the fire’s fuel finally ran out.
You might recognize some of the footage in the above video. Similar scenes were run several times in the background as the anchors at major news outlets including CNN and CBS talked about the struggles at the Fukushima nuclear station – giving viewers the impression that the dramatic blazes had something to do with nuclear energy.
The reality of the very brief hydrogen explosions was quite different. In those cases, a large, visible volume of smoke erupted and rapidly dissipated. There was no continuing fire, but I am pretty certain you have seen the video clip enough times to have had it impressed into your brain that nuclear plants can explode during an accident. No one has tried to help you put that fact into any context, so it remains unanchored and kind of scary. I can only guess why the only footage I have found of the Chiba refinery fire came during the very first day of the 10 day long blaze.
Have you heard or found any follow-up to the story about the hydroelectric dam that collapsed during the earthquake, destroying 1800 homes? I am just guessing here, but I think that the probability of all of those homes having been empty at the time they were flooded is far lower than the probability of a used pool being emptied. However, no coverage of that accident can be found outside of dusty corners of the internet and no one has even speculated on the death toll from that single renewable energy accident.
Context and comparisons between various sources of energy must play an important role in near term decisions about the use of nuclear energy. We cannot allow people who want us to continue in our present course of consuming fossil fuels as fast as we can extract them to set the agenda for the review. They must explain how slowing nuclear energy helps to improve public safety compared to energy sources like coal, oil, natural gas, hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal. All have some risk, but the measured, numerical risks must be put on the table and rationally evaluated.
One more topic – there is a new Atomic Show Podcast available. On March 20, 2011, I gathered five pro nuclear communicators together for a discussion about our collective and individual efforts to share as much information as we know in response to the earthquake and tsunami disaster that included a nuclear component that turned into the media’s focus area.
You can find the podcast at Atomic Show #164 – Fukushima Discussion by Pro Nuclear Communicators. There is an inline player or you can download the file for future consumption. If you like what you hear, please consider subscribing so that you will get the shows whenever they are ready – the production schedule is so fluid as to not actually be a “schedule.”