1. I can’t help but think if one really wants to keep out unwelcome visitors on a certain parcel of land, placing a sign that reads “Danger! Radioactive!” would be far more effective than “No Trespassing”. 😉

    This looks like a fascinating documentary, I will definitely check it out.

    1. I just came across this rather remarkable item:


      Worth a read – the most remarkable part being, the authors were the pair who originally published the paper that supposedly identified higher mutation rates in small rodents in the Chernobyl region.

      And then, in an act of outstanding scientific honesty, rechecked their results using improved equipment, only to see the claimed effect disappear – and then publically retract their own paper.

  2. Today, NHK reports that the evacuation advisory for 5 towns in the 20 to 30 km region will be lifted Friday.

    “Senior Vice Minister of Economy Trade and Industry Tadahiro Matsushita on Monday met with Mayor Yuko Endo of Kawauchi Village, one of the municipalities, and said the advisory would be lifted by around Friday.”

    Evacuation was not mandatory in these areas, but 29,000 people evacuated.

    “The 5 municipalities had earlier submitted to the government plans to decontaminate the areas and restore lifelines to meet conditions for lifting the advisory.”


    Whether the 29,000 people will return is unknown.

    However, it’s a good thing to see people moving back.

    I wonder whether the old women of Chernobyl will be filmed as part of the PBS special, or whether we will only see animals?


    1. These evacuation lift notices have been a monthly promise of the govt every month for each of the last 3 months.

    2. Part of the PR problem with nuclear is that radioactive materials are so ridiculously easy to detect in infinitesimal amounts – they scream out “here I am, and this is my isotopic makeup!”

      Somebody better knock this down before it gets twisted by Arnie & friends. I just don’t have the time. From the Oct 1 WSJ:
      “Japan Discovers Plutonium Far From Crippled Reactor”

      1. Atomikrabbit

        The Plutonium stuff made news 5 months ago. It was determined then that the root cause were ‘military bombs testing’ detonated by Russia in the 60’s and 70’s …

        1. Plutonium does not travel very well … 28 miles is quite a stretch. From Fukushima ? Not bloody likely.

        2. “Samples from Iitate, a village located 28 miles from the power plant, registered 0.82 becquerels of Plutonium-238 and 2.5 becquerels of Plutonium-239 and -240. Iitate was evacuated earlier this year.”

          This makes my original point. If this were arsenic, or botulism toxin, you would never find it even with the most sophisticated analytical tools available. Yet the much less toxic Pu makes its presence known easily.

          And because it is so easily detected, and the media is so scientifically ignorant and fundamentally biased toward fear-mongering, hundreds of thousand of readers of the WSJ will have their minds polluted with misinformation.

          Not to mention that the authorities felt compelled to evacuate the village over this kind of needless fear, with the inevitable hardship and suffering this brings.

          Since a hundred automobile deaths a day for Americans is below the media threshold for panic, maybe a similar “oh, never mind” threshold should be established for each radioactive species.

        3. @Atomikrabbit
          “Samples from Iitate, a village located 28 miles from the power plant, registered 0.82 becquerels of Plutonium-238 and 2.5 becquerels of Plutonium-239 and -240. Iitate was evacuated earlier this year.”
          This makes my original point. If this were arsenic, or botulism toxin, you would never find it even with the most sophisticated analytical tools available. Yet the much less toxic Pu makes its presence known easily.
          And because it is so easily detected, and the media is so scientifically ignorant and fundamentally biased toward fear-mongering, hundreds of thousand of readers of the WSJ will have their minds polluted with misinformation.

          * * *

          There any way you can quote this in the WSJ Letters to the Editor and see what happens?

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

  3. I like the subtle jab of your link “printed by the New York Academy of Sciences”. That group is proving to be rather glacial in their actions.

  4. The logic here is a little skewed:

    “The empirical results show that plants, animals, and even human beings that have not been carefully taught to be afraid of radiation can go on living and thriving, even in an area where an exposed nuclear reactor core suffered a damaging steam explosion that released large chunks of radioactive debris.”

    All that the empirical results show is that biodiversity in a locale without many humans but with relatively high radioactivity levels thrives versus the same locale with many humans but with lower radioactivity levels.

    This is much different than comparing a locale and then changing the radioactivity levels only, in order to discern the effect.

    Regarding humans, clearly if they’re not taught about radioactivity they won’t know about it. And as long as they don’t perceive an increased cancer rate, they will “thrive”. Everyone would be smoking cigarettes if they didn’t learn about the associated toxicity.

    1. Bob,

      The people that refused to leave and the plants and animals that have thrived since most of the people left have been extensively studied for any effects from the higher radiation and contamnation levels. Rod was not just referring to the increased biodiversity.

      1. The issue with human health effects is based on the epidemiological strength one needs to be convinced there has been an effect one can attribute to radiation and exclude other potential causes. Cancers are multi-step phenomena and they are occurring in the region.

        I’m not arguing with the broader point that evacuations likely pose greater risk.

        But the radiation risk isn’t zero. It’s just very low.

        1. The issue with human health effects is based on the epidemiological strength one needs to be convinced there has been an effect one can attribute to radiation and exclude other potential causes. Cancers are multi-step phenomena and they are occurring in the region.

          Bob – This is nonsense. Cancers are also occurring outside the region, as well. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that about 42% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and this is before any risks from exposure to radiation are considered.

          You’ve got to do a lot better than saying cancers are occurring, if you want to have a convincing argument.

          Cancer is something that can be studied using epidemiological methods just like any other disease. (I should know, since it’s what my wife does for a living.) You are insistent that there must be some sort of risk at very low doses, but there is no convincing scientific evidence to support that belief. The best that can be said is that such risk is too small to be observed and quite possibly doesn’t exist at all.

    2. Let’s give it another crack. The biggest predator (man) can read and has left. Animals are doing great. Get the point? Radiation is a non issue. Getting rid of the number predator for wolves and deers is good news for wildlife.

    3. Let’s give it another crack. The biggest predator (man) can read and has left. Animals are doing great. Get the point? Radiation is a non issue. Getting rid of the number predator for wolves and deers is good news for wildlife.

      1. It is absolutely better for biodiversity if man were to disappear, in the absence of higher radioactivity levels or not.

        The same could be said of mercury, lead, arsenic or anything else.

        That doesn’t render any of those toxins non-toxic.

        It’s just that the positive effect masks the negative effect.

        1. First you have to establish that indeed low-dose radiation IS toxic before you can claim that negative effects are masked. That determination can only be made by looking at the evidence, which in the case of the Chernobyl shown no net effects.

          The increase in hard cancers that you alluded to up-thread has been blamed on exposures during the initial event, and cannot be used as evidence that they are caused by residual radiation. At any rate there is no evidence that there is is an increase in suspisious lesions among non-human populations.

  5. See BEIR VII by the U.S. National Research Council regarding the toxicity of low level radioactivity:


    I never said there was an increase in cancers. I simply said cancers are occurring. We can’t tell which ones are radiation induced or not. The epidemiology doesn’t have enough statistical power to discern, especially in a population with high tobacco and alcohol consumption.

    I don’t know what a “suspicious lesion” refers to, but the Chernobyl Forum broadly describes radiation effects to non-human populations including increased mortality and reproductive loss. The current issue (Oct. 2011) of Health Physics Journal describes other specific effects. Of course, relative to the absence of man, these effects are a great trade off.

    1. Bob – Saying “cancers are occurring” is not a valid argument for what you are trying to imply with it.

    2. We know all about BEIR VII; elsewhere on t5his site you can find extensive critiques of this document, and why bit is found wanting.

      I have read most of the published studies claiming to find increased mortality and reproductive loss among the fauna of the zone, and I have yet to see any results that show positive correlation above the noise floor better than 2-sigma. This hardly constitutes a smoking gun.

      1. It’s hard to get 2-sigma (95% confidence) on the deleterious effects of radiation (small) relative to the beneficial effects of absence of man (large).

        That’s my point….that’s the problem with ecological studies.

  6. Brian –

    “Cancers are occurring” is not an argument. Nor is it an implication.

    It is a fact.

    What is the contribution to the cancer rate from the Chernobyl radiation? We can’t tell. It is too low to be discerned from other causes using current epidemological methods. We usually try to be confident at the 95% level. Just because we can’t be 95% sure of something, doesn’t mean it’s non-existent.

    See BEIR VII list of references for the scientific data. You seem to be familiar with it enough to quote a portion of it, yet you fail to quote the risks it assigned to carcinogenesis.

    The evidence is presented in BEIR VII wh

    It is not a fact that

    1. Bob – You fail to understand that it is you who are making a claim here. Thus, it is up to you to provide evidence to support your claim.

      The same spurious arguments that you are using could also equally be applied to “prove” the existence of ghosts. For example:

      Do ghosts exist? We can’t tell. We have no scientific evidence to demonstrate their existence, but we also have no scientific evidence that disproves their existence. Ghosts are mostly invisible and therefore are difficult to detect. Just because we can’t be reasonably sure of something like ghosts, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

      The so-called “evidence” presented by BEIR VII for low-dose radiation is very weak at best. Even the BEIR committee admits that. Their risk estimates are based on an assumption, which is exactly the term they use to describe it.

      You assume that people are dying from radiation, you believe that people are dying from radiation, but you are very far from demonstrating in a convincing manner that people are dying from radiation.

      Once again, I must emphasize that any statement that “cancers are occurring” is irrelevant. Yet you keep repeating this mantra and insisting on the existence of ghosts.

    2. If you even took the time to read the first chapter of “Wormwood Forest” you would note that the levels of “background” radiation are LESS than that of Denver Colorado (both numbers ignore effects from other sources, e.g. Radon). I do not see a mass exodus from Colorado, in fact, even the environmental wacos are still flocking to Colorado, look at Bolder, CO. The LNT model is B/S, even the “originator,” B.L. Cohen, has stated that he is sorry for its use and condemned its continued use. You cannot escape exposure to radiation. If LNT was true there would be a higher incidence of cancer in Colorado and other high plain cities than in those at sea level. Radiation workers at nuclear power plants and ex military radiation workers have a LOWER incidence of cancer than the average population – which in essence supports (does not prove) the theory that a minimum level is actually helpful. I strongly suggest you read up on some of the studies on Hormesis.

      Start here: http://www.ajronline.org/content/179/5/1137.full

      1. The LNT model is B/S, even the “originator,” B.L. Cohen, has stated that he is sorry for its use and condemned its continued use.

        Rich – Er … I thought that John Gofman claimed to be the originator of the LNT hypothesis, and he died about four years ago (unapologetically, I might add). Bernard Cohen has been a long-time critic of this assumption.

        Perhaps you were trying to refer to this latest bit of news?

        No Safe Level of Radiation Exposure? Researcher Points to Suppression of Evidence On Radiation Effects by Nobel Laureate

    3. Is it “too low to be detected at 95% confidence”, or simply that there is no increase detectable in the rate at all? Even in the Ukraine, from what I gather there’s marginal evidence for increased rates at all.

  7. Brian –

    There is no underlying mechanism for ghosts. The notion comes from the old myth of duality – that the soul was separate from the body. If the body died, the soul could live. There is no evidence of the soul or of ghosts.

    The underlying mechanisms for carcinogenesis are fairly well understood. You can’t ignore those facts (radiation causes mutations to oncogenes or oncosuppresor genes, which coupled with other sources of mutations leads to cancer).

    When the levels of radiation are high enough, there is enough statistical power to discern radiation’s effect from other potential causes in an ecological study. But when the radiation doses are low, the statistical power no longer exists for an ecological study to be meaningful. That doesn’t mean the underlying mechanism of radiation induced cancer disappears. It’s still there.

    I’m not assuming that people are dying from radiation.

    They are dying from cancer.

    What are the contributors to the onset of cancer?

    Radiation is one of many contributors.

    In the region, radiation levels have increased.

    Just not enough to provide the statistical power for an ecological study. Which isn’t surprising considering how many other contributors to cancer have changed at the same time due to the evacuation….there’s likely less diesel fumes, less pesticide/herbicide usage, less second hand smoke, etc. in the area.

    1. The underlying mechanisms for carcinogenesis are fairly well understood. You can’t ignore those facts (radiation causes mutations to oncogenes or oncosuppresor genes, which coupled with other sources of mutations leads to cancer).

      Well, I’m not so sure that they’re all that well understood. If we understood “fairly well” what causes cancer, then my wife would be out of a job.

      I am convinced, however, that they are not at all well understood by you, based on the extremely simplistic model that you are expounding here. Yes, radiation can cause mutations if the exposure is high enough, but you can’t just leave it there.

      By your simplistic reasoning, we should all be horribly mutated freaks and dropping dead of cancer like flies cooked in a microwave, since we are all literally bathed in radiation every second of our lives.

      We’ve all heard the tired, old line: even a single ionizing particle can cause the DNA in a cell to become damaged, which can impair the cell’s function and lead to cancer. However, this incredibly naive approach to biology overlooks the fact that such damage already occurs on an immense scale (completely dwarfing the part due to background radiation) through many normal biological processes, ranging from damage caused the body’s own heat to damage caused by free radicals created by the essential process of metabolism.

      Why are we not all dead? Well, it’s because our cells have the ability to repair the damage. That is, we all have a large variety of antioxidants, which prevent some of the damage, and enzymes that continually scan the DNA to repair damaged nucleotides. If they are able to do this for natural processes, including background radiation, then why are not able to do this for radiation from the remnants of Chernobyl?

      In the region, radiation levels have increased.

      You haven’t told me anything unless you have told me how much they have increased. In particular, you haven’t told me anything unless you say how much radiation levels have increased relative to the background from natural sources, which typically varies between 1 and 10 mSv per year.

      Your simpleminded theoretical arguments differ little from the “old myths” that led to a belief in ghosts. Furthermore, you yourself claim that you have no scientific evidence to back up your claims.

  8. Brian –

    At 1:25 p.m. I wrote to see BEIR VII for the scientific data. I never said I have no scientific evidence to back up my claims.

    You selectively quoted BEIR VII at 1:06 p.m. as if they’re an authority, and then ignored their conclusion.


    1. Bob – I am already very familiar with BEIR VII. I have a copy at home with the rest of my books. This is why I have pointed out to you that their “conclusion” — when it comes to the risk model for low-dose and low-dose-rate exposure to radiation — is merely an “assumption.” That’s their choice of word, not mine.

      If all you have to offer as an argument is BEIR VII, then I’ll stick with my statement that you have no convincing scientific evidence to support your claims of negative health effects due to radiation in the case considered here.

  9. Can Nuclear Carnival members quickly focus some kind of rebuttal campaign in blogs or print or Paypal-driven Ads or even MSM video appearances to fights the frets and nuclear uncertainty this program is solely meant to sow? The lack of Fukushima fatalities and massive public damage has SERIOUSLY DISAPPOINTED members of the media and anti-nuclear groups so now they’re using supposedly plighted Bambi’s to tug public heartstrings instead of brains.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  10. A bit of trivia on wildlife in Europe and Chernobyl:

    On the 16th anniversary of Chernobyl, the Swedish radiation authorities, writing in the Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter, admitted over-reacting by setting the safety level too low and condemning 78% of all reindeer meat unnecessarily, and at great cost.

    Today still, Germany forbids consumption of wild boar.

    1. And the Germans are still paying reparations to hunters of boars because they can’t eat the meat.

      The French, however, do not forbid the consumption of truffles, which become wildly radioactive.

      Life is strange.

      The Czechs write articles about brining and boiling wild meat to lower the cesium content.

      Somewhere in there is a fine anthropological just waiting to be investigated.

      1. The real joke are the zillions of dollars that will be spent on yet another sarcophagus at Chernobyl. For God’s sake, even Denver today is more radio active than Chernobyl !

        Are we all on another planet on this board ? Are we for real ?

    1. Interesting but the stupid comments regarding radiations are too much. For example, ’26 years after the meltdown rain still drops Plutonium on the furs of all animals’. Really?

  11. When the giant tsunami hit Indonesia or Thailand years ago, people on the beach were caught filming the giant waves as they approached. They died. (The theory of evolution in action)

    Birds and animals had fled 24 hours before and they must have felt the disaster coming.

    If animals are in Chernobyl and humans are not, what does it tell us?

  12. Wow you guys sure like slapping each others backs. you know what would be a lot more convincing in your arguments that radiation is safe than simply denying that there is any difference between natural background radiation and Nuclear fallout? Go and live in the Fukushima exclusion zone, or even Fukushima city much further away would be enough to back up your lies. Blog from there and take your families too.

    of course not a single one of you would ever volunteer. Nobody who claims radiation is safe has tried to prove it by example, strange that.

    By the way breast cancers increased by almost 3x between 1980 and 2006. whats to say that chernobyl didnt play a part in that?

    Another point humans live a lot longer than most animals, so comparing anmals that probably wont live beyond 20 years old to humans is just stupid.

    It would be good if you guys talked a little about solutions to the Fukushima problem. what do you think is the long term solution to stabilizing the molten cores that are now about to hit the water table? or do you honestly think its not really a problem at all because radiation is good for us?

    1. If government would allow people to go into the contaminated zone “at their own peril”, this would finally expose the myth of dangerous radiation. People would go in and see nothing, nothing except some numbers on their dosimeters.
      This is the problem for anti-nuclear propagandists: they have to constantly hammer out their hype and propaganda about health, their inflated statistics and numbers, show protection suits, gas masks and destroyed concrete buildings on TV, because it’s all artificial hype about something relatively harmless. The moment they stop doing this, people see radiation for what it is: they see nothing because there is (almost) nothing there. The Fukushima reactor buildings, like the one at Chernobyl, didn’t look pretty after the hydrogen explosion, but so do other devastated structures. The difference is that the other structures are not shown over and over on TV.
      The Chernobyl exclusion zone is basically an experiment of what happens to an urban area when it is almost completely abandoned for 25 years. It’s interesting, we see how the buildings withstood the time, how animals and plants reclaimed the place, but what we do not see is any evidence of dangerous radiation. Oh but Greenpeace has these pictures of thrown away baby dolls, and many will think this is dead babies – very successful propaganda.

      1. I am sure the Japanese government would be more than happy to have a bunch of you guys settle in a heavily contaminated area to put peoples minds at rest. You could also eat the local produce. Alas real men who stand by their beliefs are few in this age.

        As you said “People would go in and see nothing, nothing except some numbers on their dosimeters”

        Thats right, you cant see, smell or taste anything, you just die a nasty death before you normaly would.

        1. At Fukushima, they did at first not enforce the evacuation order, and a lot of the locals simply did not comply with it and stayed. Only after they moved in with force did most of them leave. This is proof that there are at least some people who are not afraid of radiation.
          The same thing happened at Chernobyl: the best experimental proof that low level radiation is not dangerous comes from those farmers that returned to the exclusion zone and lived there to this day in good health. Of course the fearmongers have an explanation: allegedly these farmers settled in “islands” that were not that contaminated.
          If there is a “nasty” death associated with living in a radioactive contaminated zone, then we have yet to see one such case. Claims of cancers are not sufficient proof, in this day and age where 1 out of 3 of us gets cancer anyway. Best guesses what is causing the cancer trends lead to our diets. Processed food and lack of flavonoids has far more impact than mild radiation which is completely natural.

    2. Joe B
      You should know that the source of radiation is not sorted by the brain. Radiation from a banana is not different from plutonium which is an alpha emitter and of no consequence to man.

        1. Look up the plutonium challenge that was offered by Cohen to Ralph Nader or to the experiment on humans with Plutonium on the Msnhattan project.
          Also do not confuse toxicity with radiation. Read 5 books on the topics and you will enjoy the benefits and true costs of nuclear.

        2. Naturally occurring stable Strontium may even be beneficial and is available as a dietary supplement, Strontium 90 which is a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 28 years is not the same thing at all.

          Likewise naturaly occurring Cesium and Cesium 137 which is a fission product are two completely different animals

          San Pellegrino contains the natural stable type of each right? Was that intentional disinformation or did you not know the difference?

        3. Joe B

          You seem well informed. So why the fuss? You know that radio active cesium and radio active strontium and radio active technetium are all injected or exposed to the human body as part of normal nuclear medicine treatments ?

        4. Joe B
          Are you aware that the Potassium from that banana is a major building block of the DNA that everyone is so worried about “damaging” by radiation. It is used as one of the linking molecules between each half of the spiral. However, as this potassium is also emitting alphas, right there in the middle of your DNA spiral, is it, or is it not “damaging” your DNA? Is this alpha needed to keep you alive or does it shorten your life? Do people that eat more bananas live longer? In general YES. and that alpha is basically indistinguishable from those other alphas that you might get from the slightly contaminated food/soil around Fukushima. I have been told that you should eat at least one banana a day. How much food would a person have to eat to exceed the dose from a normal intake of bananas?

        5. Life is a miraculous thing, maybe a perfectly placed alpha emitting particle of natural potassium sitting within the DNA strand is essential to all living things in the universe.

          Maybe having foreign emitters randomly lodged in organic tissues, plutonium in the lungs, strontium in bones and cesium accumulating in the thyroid is not so essential.

        6. Indeed strontium gets to the bones. So much so that pharmaceutical are using it instead of calcium to deliver medicine for special kind of bone diseases. Experimental still, but contemplated by modern science nevertheless.

          Them nasty nuclear wastes are so bad, they make medicine sick.

      1. @Daniel, not all isotopes of strontium are radioactive. You seem to display an ignorance of the importance of nuclear medicine, which doctors use every day to save lives.

        Medical isotopes are produced in special reactors, not power reactors.

        1. @ Jason

          Tc 99 isotopes emerges from nuclear fission. Commercial nuclear reactor or special reactor does not make any difference, except for the fact that you can’t get to the Tc 99 isotopes that are trapped within the rods of a commercial reactor due to regulations.

          When Chalk River was being refurbished in Canada, there was a world shortage of these precious isotopes and Tc 99 from the rods of commercial nuclear reactors could have been a source of relief.

          Medical isotopes could also be produced from commercial reactors.

    3. If someone is willing to pay my way, and the authorities will allow it, I’ll happily go and live in the 500 mSv/year hot spot which is said to lay 3km from the plant for a year. I’ll need to be assured of a supply of food and other essentials, electronic entertainment including a high-speed internet connection, and the ability to attend doctors’ appointments as they come up, which will happen occasionally for a while because of my car accident. If these matters are sorted, I’m fully up for it.

      1. Im sure accommodation and local veggies and meat is cheap and abundant over there, i see all sorts of ways to generate cash. reality tv, blog, propaganda for Tepco. you would be a hero among your peers.

        but you would have to be at least a small group, one person isn’t convincing, there’s always some nutter willing to do dumb stunts.
        A nice view out of your open windows of the steaming reactors 3km away

        I’m starting to see serious TV potential here. Any Other volunteers?

        anyway isnt the exclusion zone being lifted? that will make it all very easy.

        1. I would rather go to Ramsar, Iran personally. They have neat SPA with surrounding radiation levels of 600 msv a year. Fukushima’s 20 msv a year is not hot enough for me.

        2. Lol i would too, but unfortunately Iran just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Sorry.

          20 mSv/year? where did you get that figure from?

        3. This is what the arbitrary radiation threshold was set at for the Fukushima evacuation zone. (20 msv per year for adults and 1 msv a year for children)

          Of course they applied a 20-30 km radius when even the IAEA only recommends a 5 km evacuation zone in case of a civil nuclear plant accident.

        4. Oh, Joe – it’s also probably worth mentioning I spent a fair part of my childhood in the area “contaminated” by the 1956 Windscale fire – including not only the various Caesiums and strontiums, but a far more problematic isotope called polonium 210. Indeed, it’s somewhere I’m still keen to get back to whan I can – including taking my wife and child.

          Spo far, so far as I can tell, I don’t appear to have died screaming…..

    4. I’m writing this from India – up until two days ago, I was in Kerala, a state with some of the highest known background radiation in the world. Specifically, I spent a free day sitting on Kovalam Beach – a well known tourist spot known for it’s “black sands”.

      Those sands are made up of monazite, an ore rich in thorium and a strong source of radon, hence radiation exposure. Background radiation in many places in Kerala, like Kovalam ranges up to 60mSV/yr – compared to the 2.5 or so around by home close to London. And, incidentally, about 5-6 times what you’d get in all but the very hottest of hot-spots in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

      Is there any indication whatsoever that Kerala, and places like Kovalam have unusually high rates of cancer or other radiation-related diseases compared to the rest of India?

      Absolutely not.

      As to the “molten cores” claim – what utter drivel. The cores are sitting in the bottoms of the reactor vessels – that’s what’s generating the heat that’s being removed by the couple of tonnes/hour now being pumped into each vessel.

      Even if we didn’t have such string evidence of where they are, the “slow meltdown” concept is just so silly that it doesn’t bear examination. You’d have to have a molten core that’s heat output is so finely balanced with local heat removal that it would only progress by millimetres per day – and one that’s somehow stayed in that finely balanced condition while the heat-output has decayed by a factor of perhaps 20 as compared to what it was within the first days after the accident.

      Is that credible, do you think? Or is it more credible to assume that some not-desperately-well-informed fear mongers need to invent a situation, in order to make themselves feel excited and important?

      My money’s on the latter.

      Is there the sli

      1. Ok I am starting to understand some things, for example isotopes with shorter half-lives emit a lot more than those with long half-lives, makes perfect sense as they simply release their energy quicker.

        So what Isotope is present in India and Iran? Does it get absorbed by the human organism when ingested or inhaled? and what is its half-life? Is it Radon?

        About the molten cores, Tepco claimed that all three melted cores have now cooled to below 100 degrees Celsius. Now how is it possible that the fissioning molten cores have cooled down that much in 6 months? the only explanation is that the have indeed left the area where these readings are being taken. Is that logical or can you explain it another way?

        1. Sorry you said it was radon, don’t know how i missed that. Apparently radon kills 21,000 people in the US alone every year from lung cancer. Gas not a solid, half.life of 3.5 days.

        2. Joe B: You’re an idiot.

          The main radionuclide present at Ramsar is Radium-226. When ingested it is generally treated by the body as calcium, so has a tendency to end up in bone. Given that it is an alpha emitter, it is certainly of concern as an internal radiotoxin. Nonetheless, the residents of Ransar don’t seem to be negatively impacted by this exposure.

          Your question about ‘fissioning molten cores’ seems based on a complete misunderstanding of the situation. I’m inclined to believe there is no good faith in your question, and that you are just trying to jerk people around for your own amusement. There has been no significant fission in the cores since they went in to automatic shut-fown when the earthquake occured. All the heat which caused the problems resulted from the decay of fission products. This has been declining ever since the accident. Your assumption that the core material has moved somewhere else because otherwise we’d see it fissioning is frankly bizzare.

        3. Do you mean there was no meltdown at all? Even Tepco has admitted that all 3 have fully melted down within hours of losing cooling.

          I am certainly not trying to jerk anyone around, im trying to understand what is real and what is wild fear-mongering or on the other extreme disinformation. Depending where you go for your information it ranges from extinction level event to no need for an exclusion zone. somewhere in the middle of that is the reality. thats all.

        4. Did the cores actually completely melt down? It is more likely that there was partial melting of exposed rods, if melting occured at all. As for the truth about the seriousness of the radiation release and need for an exclusion zone, you are mistaken to assume that the truth must necessarily lie ‘somewhere in the middle’. There is no justification for such a belief without looking at the actual likelihood of the various claims. Scientific truths are not decided by opinion poll.

        5. “if melting occured at all” ????

          Wow thats quite a wild assertion at this point.

          I meant somewhere in between, not exactly in the middle.

      2. Radiation workers in North Carolina must limit their annual dose to 5 Rem (0.05 Sieverts/year).

        I guess we would have to rewrite our regulations if our plant was located in Kerala!

        1. @gallopingcamel – are you sure about this? I am pretty sure that there are no state by state annual dose limits.

          On the subject of dose limits, I happened to notice that the NRC blog mentioned a proposal to reduce the limit for eyes from the current 15 rem per year to 2 rem per year averaged over 5 years with no single year being allowed to exceed 5 rem.


          Comments are due in response to the August 31, 2011 Federal Register Notice (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/pagedetails.action?granuleId=2011-21900&packageId=FR-2011-08-30&acCode=FR) by October 31.

        2. Just back from that very area, Gallopingcamel – I visited one of the “black sand” beaches, where I was probably subject to about 6-7 microsieverts/hour. Or, about 3 times the threshold level for the “exclusion zone” at Fukushima.

  13. Joe B

    Personlly I dont’t feed trolls like you. I don’t even believe you’re genuinely anti-nuclear but a high schooler getting his jollies off throwing out specious red meat to jerk our chains. Anyone with your fanatical POV would see humanity remaining an Earth-bound species because you’d be squeamish about crossing the Van Allen belts. The very worst part of your spiel is that so many of the unwashed and uneducated take it hook, line and sinker. Onwards to more serious and sincere anti-nukers please!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. So you are saying that a well educated person will automatically be pro nuclear by default?

      Well please educate the poor unwashed pathetic naysayers then.

      So far in this article and your good comments we have learned that:

      No Evacuation zones were or are necessary at either Chernobyl or Fukushima

      What you don’t know about can’t hurt you.

      Animals cant read warning signs.

      Lithuania’s RMBK Reactor shutdown had nothing to do with Lithuania joining the EU.

      All Russia’s RMBK reactors just keep on going, without even the slightest modifications to make them any safer.

      mineral water is as deadly as fission byproducts. or is it that radioactive isotopes are as harmless as mineral water.

      Radiation is absolutely harmless in low doses, whether ingested or external, even over lifetimes.

      DNA cannot be damaged by radiation it actually contains it.

      Bananas are potentially very dangerous. oops no, that radiation is as harmless as bananas.

      Radon is harmless as is nuclear fallout.

      Chernobyl was a steam explosion.

      People in India live long healthy lives.

      A lot of people in Japan are well informed but not scared by a bit of radiation and would have preferred to stay home.

      There may not have been any meltdown at all at Fukushima.

      Call me a troll if you like but did I misunderstand anything here?

      1. Yes you are a troll because you know very well that you are mischaracterizing the statements that have been made here in response to your comments. This can only be interpreted as a childish attempt to salve your wounded ego now that you are forced to question many of your cherished beliefs.

        1. All i did was create a bullet list summary of the messages i interpreted on this page and asked if i understood correctly. Is the information here not supposed to be taken literally? are we speaking metaphorically rather than factually? are we speaking in riddles?

      2. @Joe B – You are a troll. However, your list is not too bad. I have taken it as one of my tasks in life to share what I know about nuclear energy with people whose educational systems have failed them. They not granted the opportunity to learn how useful and valuable fission is on a first hand, daily basis. Many of the people who are ignorant of the value of fission paid for my education, the least I can do is work to remove their ignorance.

        Your list, though intended to be ironic, was reasonably accurate except for the below items.

        Lithuania’s RBMK shutdown had EVERYTHING to do with the price of entry into the EU but NOTHING to do with the safety of their well operated and maintained reactor.

        People in India often lead short lives filled with dire poverty and dirty drinking water.

        There were meltdowns at Fukushima in the sense that the radioactive cores melted. The vast majority of the material from all three cores remain inside the steel pressure vessels. If you think that a “meltdown” means the release of melted core material through the steel pressure vessel and through the steel and concrete containment, then no, meltdowns did not occur and probably never will occur.

        1. Rod, is there firm data on the extent of the melting? I understand that it’s highly likely some of the fuel melted, though not necessarily all, similar to Three Mile Island. Do we have definite knowledge of the present state of the cores and the evolution of the accident (it’s certain that they’re not molten now, of course)?

        2. I have hard that there are still ten RBMK reactors operating in what used to be the USSR. Is that true or is it just another urban legend?

        3. Russia is the only country to still operate reactors of this design: Saint Petersburg (4 RBMK-1000), Smolensk (3 RBMK-1000) and Kursk (4 RBMK-1000)

      3. Well, here’s a specific, if you want one.

        Kerala state’s average background radiation is about 20mSV/yr. In places, it’s up to 60mSv/yr. That latter is three times the threshold for the original Fukushima evacuation (and even that would have been for the first year post-accident – the subsequent decay of iodine 131 and Cs 134 would reduce that by around 75% for the second year).

        That across the whole of India is similar to the world average – about 2.5-3mSv/yr.

        Life expectancy at birth for Kerala is 75 (77 in the US, btw). That for India as a whole is 64.

        You’d struggle, in the face of that, to argue that additonal radiation exposure is a major cause of mortality in Kerala. And I’ve seen no agitation for evacuating the state (or Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, and Bangalore in Karnakata, which also have elevated background).

        1. Ok but would the type of isotope not play a role here, radon, the gas created by the breakdown of radium 226 which is what you find in India as i understand it, has a half-life of 3.5 days. it is a gas which probably means it does not get lodged in the body , even if it did it would have decayed completely after about 35 days.

          Fukushima fallout is a different beast entirely.

          Also what is the power output of the different isotopes? surely some radiate more energy than others even if their decay rates play a part.

        2. Joe – According to the US EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the US.

          The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements estimates that 37% of all radiation exposure in the US (both natural and artificial) comes from exposure to radon. This is higher than any other source.

          Radon has a very high activity and it is an alpha emitter, which means that it is rather dangerous when inhaled.

          Fukushima fallout is a different beast entirely.

          Sure … The two main isotopes of concern are Cs-137 and I-131, both of which are beta and gamma emitters (Cs-137 through one of its decay products). Thus, they are far less dangerous when inhaled or ingested. All of the I-131 from Fukushima has decayed away by now and is gone. Unlike radon, radioactive iodine is not perpetually created through the decay of long-lived isotopes found in nature. Once it is gone, it is gone for good.

          The Fukushima fallout is far less dangerous per unit of activity. The dose estimates for both that are quoted in terms of sieverts per unit time take all of these differences into account, however.

          Joe, try to understand that science is your friend. If you are hoping to think of something that professional scientists who have spent their entire career in this field haven’t thought about, then you are fighting a losing battle.

        3. Ok so when people say radiation (radon) in India or Iran or any natural background radiation for that matter is harmless, that is a factual error?

          And with the detection of both cesium and iodine in areas far from the plant in august and September, what could be creating this as their life is so short?

        4. @ Brian,

          OK for radon.

          But I do not think that all alpha emitters are a source of danger whether they are inhaled or ingested. (take Plutonium for example)

          You lead us into thinking that alpha emitters may all dangerous once inside the body, which I think is not the case.

        5. @ Joe B,

          Passing right next to a Japanese hospital for example may cause a surge in radioactive Iodine readings as it is used in certain medical procedures (departments use radioactive iodine for imaging the thyroid and to treat thyroid disease)

          This does not mean that the source would be Fukushima.

        6. Ok so when people say radiation (radon) in India or Iran or any natural background radiation for that matter is harmless, that is a factual error?

          Joe – If they are responsible, then that is not what they say. What they say is that no significant differences in health effects have been observed among populations living in areas with widely varying levels of background radiation, including areas with particularly high levels, such as in India and Iran.

          This has been thoroughly studied and is a scientific fact.

          Thus, several scientific bodies have concluded that radiation exposure that is comparable to typical background radiation levels (and even much higher levels, up to 40 times the typical background level) could have no negative health effects. Of course, it’s hard to prove a negative, so this is usually expressed as “risks of health effects are either too small to be observed or are nonexistent.”

        7. But I do not think that all alpha emitters are a source of danger whether they are inhaled or ingested. (take Plutonium for example)

          Daniel – Remember that the danger is in the dose. The idea that is often floated about in anti-nuke circles that one atom of plutonium can give you cancer is pure nonsense. The risk does exist, but it is very small. It would require a substantial amount of the material to present any significant risk.

        8. So radon when ingested has a half life of 3.5 days, so the imune system can probably repair the damage fairly quickly, otherwise you would develope cancer in about 30 days, is that right?

          Plutonium, strontium etc on the other hand is for the rest of your life and eternity as far as humanity is concerned, so what do you consider a safe lifetime dose, ingested or inhaled, in bequerels or millisieverts?

          By safe i mean that the chance of dying of cancer caused by this exposure is not statisticaly relevant. And that is including the various isotopes released by a nuclear disaster, a comination of all of them as that is the case, not just one isolated isotope.

          Im not trying to be irritating, but am reading some pretty high figures on cnn, the guardian, afp, etc. For Tokyo.

        9. Joe B (just seen you Oct. 3rd post)

          Half life isn’t relevant – since we’re using Sieverts/time, which is a direct measure of the rate at which energy is deposited in cells. Broadly, a sievert ( or milli, or microSievert) is a sievert irrespective of where the radiation came from. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a substance with a thousand year half life, or one of three minutes.

          Check the definition of a Sievert here:


          It’s even the case that radon and caesium are similar emitters – both decay through the beta-gamma route.

          And, of course the point is, in somewhere like Kerala, the radon exposure isn’t one-off – it’s continually topped up – it’s unavoidable, since its a gas, present in the air locally. Caesium, by contrast, needs to be carried by a biological pathway into the body, and provided no more contaminated food is eated, will be eliminated over time.

          As to decay energy, that’s already incorporated in the sievert number.

        10. Plutonium isotopes are so big that when ingested they simply go thru the body. You can grow food in plutonium infested soil, as Cohen has demonstrated, with no chances of uptake in the food at all.

          Now if you want to inhale the stuff, you need a serious setup and a lot of scientist.

          Injecting plutonium in the human body has been tried within the scope of the Manhattan project. Not much to report here either.

  14. To Nuclear Carnival Members:

    Good counterbalance idea to “Radioactive Wolves”;

    “Radioactive Folks”, featuring people living with “high” radioactivity in their bodies from post cancer-therapy kids to atomic workers to entire cities with high natural radiation background readings and how they’re all just nice average healthy folks. Shoot down rad and mutant fears! (would give the Fukushima people something to mull over too!)

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  15. And now onto the 13/10 post.

    Most of it’s already been addressed – especially your assumption that radon exposure would be a “one off” in somewhere like Kerala.

    “So radon when ingested has a half life of 3.5 days, so the imune system can probably repair the damage fairly quickly, otherwise you would develope cancer in about 30 days, is that right?”

    It’d be “one off” basically only if you only inhaled once, then held your breath for the remainder of however long you spent there. Which would, of course be far more likely to be fatal than inhaling radon……

    Exposure to caesium would, however, be more likely to behave as you’ve described.

    “Plutonium, strontium etc on the other hand is for the rest of your life and eternity as far as humanity is concerned, so what do you consider a safe lifetime dose, ingested or inhaled, in bequerels or millisieverts?”

    Bequerels isn’t a dose rate – and again, “sieverts is sieverts”.

    And no, plutonium is actually passably well excreted from the body – so is far from “for the rest of your life”. Note that no-one has yet detected any Fukushima-related plutonium contamination ahead of the sorts of quantities widespread around the world from the 17 tonnes or so spread through the various bomb tests. So, I doubt there are any issues there.

    Some other isotopes – like Strontium – are more problematic in that they can be taken and retained in the body – strontium is problematic since it tends to behave chemically like calcium.

    However, again, there are at most tiny quantities of strontium in the environment as a result of Fukushima; it’s only even been detected where it would be naturally highly concentrated (like in dried sewage sludge).

    “By safe i mean that the chance of dying of cancer caused by this exposure is not statisticaly relevant. And that is including the various isotopes released by a nuclear disaster, a comination of all of them as that is the case, not just one isolated isotope.”

    And again, the overwhelming proportion of the release has already decayed (in Bq terms); and will continue to do so, albeit more slowly, as first the Xenon, then the Iodine, now the Cs 134, and then the Cs 137 decay – but once again, the issue is the Sievert dose received, integrated over time.

    “Im not trying to be irritating, but am reading some pretty high figures on cnn, the guardian, afp, etc. For Tokyo”

    Well, if they’re like today’s example, they show something interesting – but no, you’re not seeing “high numbers” in the context of changing someone’s lifetime chances of getting cancer.

    Even if we accept the LNT model, that has it that a dose of 100mSv in a short period gives an increase in the chances of getting cancer of about one percentage point (the chances of a Japanese male getting cancer anyhow are about 40% over life).

    We also know that there’s no statistically detectable increase in rates when background varies between (say) the 2-3mSv/yr of London, and the 8-9mSv/yr of Cornwall. And, note, since the 20mSV level was set on the basis of exposure in the first year post-accident, it’s include contributions from both Iodine 131 (already gone) and Cs 134 2 year half-life, and currently providing about half the sieverts dosage). So no, I don’t anticipate anyone seeing any measurably increased risk of dying of cancer.

    Now, today, we’ve seen a panic about a “hotspot” in Tokyo which seems to be nothing to do with Fukushima – it seems to have been linked to some bottles (probably) of springwater with high radium content stored in a house. One that gave about the equivalent dose of 17mSV/yr at the garden fence.

    Now, note that that’s apparently been there for come years – but, until the post-Fukushima hysteria, no-one was any the wiser.

    1. Ok what i meant was that the adjacent cells to a particle of radioactive material of any kind would be continuously radiated until either the particle moved or it decayed through its short life and became harmless. my point was that radon would decay rather quickly and allow the body to repair or kill off the damaged cells whereas fission products would linger far longer and likely cause a lot more problems.
      Radon being a gas would even seem more benign as it would not be stationary like a particle and continuously damage the same cells for long periods of time.

      1. You don’t give up, do you?

        Two comments in response to that….

        First, it’d hardly apply to caesium -the primary (indeed, only signficant) contaminant at Fukushima.

        It’s water-soluble. To the degree that not only does it not bio-accumulate, but it doesn’t even concentrate in any particular part of the body. So, not really relevant to this discussion.

        Second, what you’re now claiming is a variant of the “Second Event” theory of the infamous “chris Busby. Just to be clear, yes, particulates can lodge, and cause issues – but that’s already accounted for in the dose-risk estimates for particulate forming nucleides.

        Busby then went on to attempt to claim that these models underestimated risk, by saying they needed to take into account the probability of a second particle hitting a given DNA strand during division. You can find the utter demolition of his argument here:


        It turns out, he can’t do basic geometry.

        The humiliation led to his walking out of a body set up (by an anti-nuclear Minister) to investiate low-level radiation effects – which overall found no reason to think that risks were underestimated. Even the Green Party has found Busby sufficient of an embarrasment to drop him as their Science spokesman….

        1. Well I suppose if cesium is not relevant to the discussion as it doesn’t bio-accumulate, then neither is radon. And in order to measure 20mSv/y the amount of radon would be vastly less than cesium as its decay is so much quicker.

          So if one measured 20mSv/y of cesium, not only would it be vastly larger amounts than radon but also have a half life of 30 years instead of 3.5 days and being particle matter it can enter the food chain.

          well that explains why Kerala or Iran isnt quite so concerning, and like the bananas and mineral water examples only creates a sense of being intentionally misled.

        2. Joe (in response to your post of 20/10/11 9:30pm)

          I’m not sure who taught you logic, Joe, but I’d ask for my money back.

          Let’s think for a momment – if Kerala’s radon-resultant exposure were due to a single emission of radon. it’d be long, long gone by now – since as you point out it’s relatively short lived.

          But it’s not. The dose rate is steady and consistent – because more radon is being continually produced – such that a steady state level has long since been reacched in the atmosphere, balancing production (from uranium decay) and its own decay. It’s in an “equilibrium state”. If you did physics to “A” level – which is the examination taken by British students at 18, pre-university – you’d have covered this. I assume US standards are similar?

          Every time I breathe out, I’ll exhale radon at roughly the same concentration as in the local atmosphere (less the amount that’s decayed while in my body). Then I’ll breathe in a whole new fresh lot, at local concentration.
          Caesium, by contrast, isn’t in an equilibrium state around Fukushima – there’s no new production.Hence that will decay with time. Further, it’s less inclined to enter the body (since it seems to be internal dosage you’re worried about) – it has a habit of binding to clays in soils – so, for example, when caesium was deposited in Ireland following Chernobyl, even though there was up to 5kBq/m2, concrentrations in surface rreservoirs and drinkingwater were almost all undetectable, and no samples above 5Bq/litre were ever found.

          So, if I’m seeing an airborne or ground dose rate from radon, and one from caaesium – not only is the radon more likely to enter my body, it’ll be around for longer.

          (and lest you be worried about 5Bq/litre – you and I are beta-active to the tune of 60-70Bq/litre from our radiopotassium content).

          And let’s go over one last thing again – A SIEVERT IS A SIEVERT IS A SIEVERT. It makes no difference what you got it from, – whether it’s a microgramme of radon, of 50 of caesium. It measures the amount of energy deposited in your cells.

          The only person doing any misleading around here is you – the sad thing is, it’s of yourself!

        3. Your condescending tone Alienates people like me whereas I think the whole intention of your discussions on a publicly readable forum are to try to convince us that our fear of nuclear is unjustified. My fear of Plutonium is less than it was before, because i understand it better now, and my new interest in thorium reactors has inspired me to read more about it, but not because of anything i read here, in fact everything i read and am told here make me highly suspicious because it contradicts everything i read elsewhere. lots of little omissions and then the ridiculous claims like bananas and mineral water. A lot of stuff is so one sided and fanatical that it almost comes across as autistic or even religious. It makes ones authority on the subject seem highly dubious and makes one wonder what exactly motivates you to defend something so vehemently.

          I understand that a Sievert is a Sievert but a SUSTAINED EXPOSURE TIME IS RELEVANT IS IT NOT? my point without twisting my words is that some Isotopes have a capacity to deliver their energy for far longer than others when inside the body.

          I just read up on Kerala to understand your point better. correct me on these points if they are wrong: Annual effective dose equivalents vary from 1.7 to 14.2 mSv with an average of (5.5 ± 2.3) mSv. these doses are measured INDOORS where VENTILATION IS LIMITED. An average Indian houses (or huts) are not well insulated, so this would probably apply more to modern resorts and ground floors of hotels with the windows shut. your statement that the dose rate is steady and consistent and that the atmosphere in the entire state of Kerala is at an “equilibrium state” outdoors is very inaccurate to say the least. Of course it goes without saying that Radon is continually produced but air continuously moves and absolutely no one is going to have a constant dose of 20mSv/y (or even up to 60mSv/y) every hour of their lives as you implied earlier. Again that just makes everything you say questionable. You want to gain the common persons trust not shatter it.

          Apart from that it is established that radon does cause health problems. the variable is the human subject not the predictable Isotope.

          And i dont know where you get your information from but there are over 20 (measured) hotspots in Tokyo and some more much further away. Cesium levels are increasing not decreasing. Its coming down in the rain and its in the ocean. Also if you look you will find that Tepco has confirmed that there is steam coming out of the ground at reactor 1 and measuring 4.7 SIEVERTS/HOUR, up from Junes 4.0 so to say there is no new production is also mistaken.

          Anyway i dont want to come across as disrespectful, I do constantly mean to thank people when they take the time to explain something but then stumble and fall on the information given.

          Keep it real and we may learn from you. keeping us dumb and talking down to us will more likely instil panic and resentment.

        4. You are not taken seriously here because you are full of misinformation and preconceived notions that it is almost impossible to get through to you when you are wrong. You need to go back and learn the basic principles of this field, or that what those of us that do have the background at face value.

          Asserting that what you are being told here doesn’t square with your understanding when your concepts are obviously based on ignorance and demanding explanations with a thinly veiled accusation that we a lying is not going to get any respect.

          The thrust of what is written here is that the material that is published in the popular media is at odds with the actual science – so telling us that what we say doesn’t jive with it is hardly a talking point.

        5. Joe,

          Any “condescension” is entirely because you seem to ahve a problem hanging onto any one issue for more than a post at a time. For example:

          “I understand that a Sievert is a Sievert but a SUSTAINED EXPOSURE TIME IS RELEVANT IS IT NOT?”


          So, a exposre rate expresssed in sieverts/hour, times hours gives an exposure in sieverts.

          Which is rather the point I’m trying to make to you. It doesn’t matter if that’s from a gramme of radon – if I’ve consistently got a gramme of radon in my lungs – or a milligramme of radon elsewhere.

          It’s back to the concept of equilibrium concentration.

          “my point without twisting my words is that some Isotopes have a capacity to deliver their energy for far longer than others when inside the body”

          Not if the exposure is being continutally refreshed. If I inhale radon, then exhale it when 0.001% (or whatever proportion has decayed) then top up the radon with a new breath, it makes no difference to my average rate of exposure. If I take in caesium (biological half-life 70 days or so), and excrete it – but in the latter case, it’s an issue only if I “refresh” again.

          If you think it through, you’ll find you’re arguing against your own case.

          “correct me on these points if they are wrong: Annual effective dose equivalents vary from 1.7 to 14.2 mSv with an average of (5.5 ± 2.3) mSv. these doses are measured INDOORS where VENTILATION IS LIMITED.”

          I’d need to see where you got the quote from – and no, Indian houses aren’t especially well ventilated.

          But even neglecting that, caesium based exposures (recognising what we’ve discussed about low biological uptake) is from soil-based radiant exposures – and the converse applies – indoors, there’s little exposure. Note the adivce at the time of the accident to remain indoors.

          “Of course it goes without saying that Radon is continually produced”

          I’m glad to see you’ve now recognised that. It’s taken a while.

          “20 (measured) hotspots in Tokyo and some more much further away. Cesium levels are increasing not decreasing.”

          Sorry? Increasing? There’s no new leakage at any meaningful level. And the caesium is decaying.

          And on the same basis as you’re arguing about indoors raon exposures, no-one sits next to a hotspot continually. Average dose is everything.

          “Also if you look you will find that Tepco has confirmed that there is steam coming out of the ground at reactor 1 and measuring 4.7 SIEVERTS/HOUR, up from Junes 4.0”

          I’d LOVE to see the quote that backs that up – I’ll give you very good odds its from a “shall we say – rense-esque website.

          “keeping us dumb ”

          No, that’s exactly what I’m working against. Despite your best efforts.

        6. @DV8XL
          “The thrust of what is written here is that the material that is published in the popular media is at odds with the actual science – so telling us that what we say doesn’t jive with it is hardly a talking point.

          If anything the popular media have been so quiet that most think Fukushima was fixed ages ago which is to your advantage, and that disgracefull BBC report that got so badly debunked agreed with everything in this article too, My point is that what is said here does not jive with the actual science according to everyone else, For example: No evacuation zone neccessay- Yet both the Russians and the Japanese think it is, Even the US recommended 80km. On top of that non of the people supporting these claims have permanently relocated into these zones to prove their point, even though real estate prices will be the lowest in the world (or free in the name of research) and a lot of infrastructure is already in place.

          Andy, I think your education is hindering your cognitive capacity. Intelligence is nothing to do with a bunch of learned facts. Open you eyes and see for yourself, not just take everything you are told at face value.

          I wont go on about the radon, cos i would just repeat myself and then you would do the same. A symptom of autism.

          Google radon in Kerala, and TEPCOS admission to steam coming out of the ground at 4.7 S/H. check youtube, lots of info there too.

          Also another dubious claim of yours, According to every other source of info i have studied, cesium is indeed bio-accumulative, it may not target any particular organ and most may be excreted eventually but it accumulates in livestock, crops, water, milk, everything. It readily moves up the food chain as well as direct ingestion from air and water and can remain in deep tissue like bones, muscle, testicles, teeth and brain for a very long time.

          Unless you have info directly from Tepco that the public is not privy to, then of course almost everything is purely speculative, on your side too. Apart from limited Video and Photos, Tepco are the gatekeepers and have not been forthcoming due to concerned about their stock prices, Nor has the government, the hotspots have ALL been discovered by private citizens with their own measuring devices who then alert the authorities.

          With the amount of heat and energy coming off the fuel using the right sensing equipment we would have a very clear image in 3D of what the damage is to the cores and pools. why we don’t is that liability is non existent as long as nobody knows.

          This means that we have to listen to all sides and make up our own minds about what is accurate information. That is how i stumbled upon this blog.

          Some good questions to start off with:

          Why is there any steam at all if the temperatures are indeed below 100c?

          What is the tempurature of molten corium and can it melt steel and concrete and if you poured water on it would it cool or would the water expand 160,000% into steam?

          Look a the video of explosion of number 3 and ask yourself: is that huge amount of debris blown vertically just the roof of the building? It looks nothing like the explosions of 1 and 2. Is the base of that mushroom the core or the spent fuel pool? that shouldn’t be hard to assess. How much material was in those 4 pools? Why have they not been emptied yet and the waste stored offsite as a precaution?

          There is no doubt that emissions right now are less than those first days, but its not as if the story is finished yet. Relevant emissions continue and all the buildings are inaccessible to humans now. Contaminated material is being incinerated in massive quantities all over japan, sending it straight back into the air.

          The fallout levels around the world may be very low but what is the threshold to cause fatal illness in say 1 in 1000 people or 0.1%? Nobody knows- but that would be almost 7 million people worldwide. 1 in 10,000, 0.01% (or statistically immeasurable) would be 700,000 or approaching some estimates for Chernobyl.

          And lastly you say Levels are dropping because “the caesium is decaying”

          7 months out of a half life of 30 yours, I could do the math but just cant be bothered. accumulation is certainly taking place, and Cesium is not the only Isotope. its just the only one being measured.

        7. Given that you clearly have no training in the sciences, how can you possibly make statements like that?

          Which brings to mind Ed Brayton’s quotation from Isaac Asimov:

          “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

        8. Actually those weren’t statements they were all in the form of questions.

          Referring to your quote of someone elses quote of yet even someone elses literature, which type of intellectual person would you consider yourself?

          1. A person of notable expertise whose knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.

          2. A person of mental caliber and applied mental agility that can inductively or deductively reason from evidence and patterns.

          Just an observation: Many of you appear to be type 1 (assuming you are actually qualified), whereas Busby, Gundersen give the impression of type 2.
          Apparently type 1 relies much more on qualifications, substantiated facts and also demands of others that they are an authority to even be considered, type 2 just goes ahead and puts the pieces together. type 1 creative and innovative, type 2, good at maintaining an already established system but without much margin of deviation.

          without claiming one is better than the other,
          you take the textbook approach and use other peoples ideas, theory’s and quotes. I tend to think more like type 2, I ask a lot of questions, look at the trends and extrapolate from there.

          Not that I consider myself an intellectual, but ‘Ignorant’ is a bit harsh

          Also it seems the two types tend to clash:)

        9. The word “ignorant” is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware, I did not call you an “ignoramus,” which to my understanding of English, would have been pejorative in this context.

          But in particular was your statement: “My point is that what is said here does not jive with the actual science according to everyone else” since you obviously don’t understand the science, how can you make that assertion? It implies that you can evaluate that which has been reported elsewhere, and deem it ‘actual science’ and thus dismiss what written here as not.

          I doubt if you’ll see it, but such a position demonstrates a breathtaking intellectual arrogance which indeed is founded on the belief that your ignorance is equivalent to our knowledge.

        10. Well the bananas and mineral water definitely was utter BS as i pointed out above.

          the claim that radon is harmless doesn’t gel either.

          Most of the info, for example ‘ionizing radiation’ found on Wikipedia does not jive with a lot of stuff said here, so go and correct it. See if your changes stick.

          Your ‘Knowledgeable’ is like claiming to put a number on the amount of cigarettes a person can safely smoke. How many cigarettes a day would be safe from childhood onwards?

        11. Wikipedia is not a primary source, and from years of editing nuclear subjects on that site, I can tell you that all of the articles in that area are constantly being modified by antinuclear supporters who are using the wiki as a platform for propaganda. The depleted uranium entry is a joke, for example.

          Look to sources that have more trustworthy if you want to know the truth (which I suspect you probably don’t)

        12. The truth? I think even you agree that at sufficient levels radiation of any sort is lethal. below that level all we have are a bunch of theories.

          Here is a little theory of my own:

          Radon is not particularly harmful to humans with its relatively short lived exposure even though 20,000 in the US supposedly die from it each year. exposure is not constant and the human body can mostly keep up with the damages. It has after all had to deal with this from the beginning of evolution.

          Evidence to support that theory:

          (As claimed here by you lot) cancer levels don’t fluctuate according to varying background levels of radiation (radon)

          So what is causing this problem? Something else in our environment. Perhaps that more uniformly spread and longer lived man made fallout from weapons testing.

          That certainly makes a lot more sense than a lot of the wild claims made here.

        13. First of all you must be aware of the fact that there are other insults that will cause cancer other than just ionizing radiation, pollution from burning fossil-fuels for example, which have also increased.

          As well more cancers are being detected which may not actually contribute to higher mortality rates. This is because cancers found in old people may not be the thing that they die from, and other cause of death may skew results for other age groups as well.

          Thus to make any claims of the impact of environmental exposure to ionizing radiation based only on general mortality rates is overly simplistic.

  16. “One that gave about the equivalent dose of 17mSV/yr at the garden fence.”

    It’s totally BONKERS that such bogeyman nitpicking over how tiny a micro-dosage humans ought take is keeping us from a nuclear energized future! Totally unreal. I demand to see the same pickiness focused on a moot of arsenic or coal dust floating in the air if the perfect health-freaks out there don’t want to be hypocrites.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  17. I find most of your comments mind-boggling and ignorant.
    Facts speak for themselves:
    If this is not enough, check out some of the image galleries of all the orphans with birth defects, or images of mutated animals. This is not some dumb “conspiracy theory”. if you think it’s safe to live in that area, why don’t you go and move there, and better yet, marry someone there and have children.

    1. We can get pictures anywhere of orphans with birth defects and land them in a Chernobyl like context.

      Stick to the United Nations studies.

      Why go to Chernobyl when Denver is more radio active. I don’t have that much frequent flyer miles.

      1. This report is begging for funding for a new sarcophagus …. Let’s keep Ukraine working with international funding.

    2. It’s well known that these types of “reports” are complete fabrications. If indeed you are a “Chernobyl survivor”, you might be more convincing if you had a real name and a real story. Referring to a bogus report only discredits you.

  18. I do have a real story. I grew up in Slovakia and was a kid when it happened. We lived a couple hundred km away. Several of my family members already died because of thyroid cancer (in their 40s). yeah, let’s blame it on diet or some other crap. Truth is, that NO ONE told us of the fall-out until a week later. The day of the event, my family and I were in the woods, picking mushrooms. My cousin’s little girl was born with a birth defect, she has to take meds to keep growing. She just stopped growing when she turned 3. I choose to remain anonymous becasue I am not stupid. Anyone can call themselves David. Ever heard of Internet ID smarts?
    Anyway, you can take it or leave it, but your ignorant comments are upsetting. Don’t talk crap UNTIL you actually walked in my shoes.

    1. We all have some degree of anonymity in a place like this, but calling yourself “Chernobyl survivor” might lead one to believe you are an evacuee from Pripyat, so I was asking for more information. There are a lot of trolls so don’t get indignent if someone asks you for more information.

      Not that it makes any difference but I think you have a right to feel angry for what happened at Chernobyl, it was a very tragic event. That said, many of the reports are politically and economically driven and many of the websites showing deformed babies are made for pure shock value to scare people. Believe it all if you wish, but the point of this post was to encourage some exploration of thought outside of one’s perceived ideas.

    1. The report you linked to appears to state in language designed not to offend the terminally offended that it’s time to stop with all the crap and get everyone back to living their normal lives instead of maintaining them as lifelong victims.

  19. “I grew up in Slovakia and was a kid when it happened. We lived a couple hundred km away. Several of my family members already died because of thyroid cancer (in their 40s). yeah, let’s blame it on diet or some other crap. Truth is, that NO ONE told us of the fall-out until a week later. The day of the event, my family and I were in the woods, picking mushrooms. My cousin’s little girl was born with a birth defect, she has to take meds to keep growing. She just stopped growing when she turned 3”

    When I see a claim like that, it rings alarm bells.

    Not only is thyroid cancer in adults very rare, but for it to be fatal is even more rare. A cluster of several adults in the same area dying would stick out like a sore thumb.

    It’s also amazing what you can find on the web – including scientific papers including a breakdown of thyroid cancer frequency in Slovakia by district, and gender – inclusing a sigificant proportion of the country that had no incidene whatsoever over the period. And going back to before Chernobyl, so we can see easily if and where incidnce increased (the authors of the paper make no mention of increased rates post Chenobyl in their abstract, by the way).

    In what areas, and roughly when do you claim this cluster happened?

  20. This is increduble. I am not here to argue with you about whether my life is real. I stumbled across thi site due to a friend telling me about the PBS special that will air tomorrow and once I read some of the posts here, it just made me sick. Do you people ever leave your basement and live a real life? I was born in East Germany (my mom is Slovak and studied there, where she met my dad) and when I was a baby, we moved to Slovakia to live with my grandparents. Just becasue I wasn’t sitting next to the reactor doesn’t make me less of a survivor (as well as the multitude of others who made it or paid the price). We weren’t told about the fallout until a week later. I was too young to understand the implications. Many of our relatives are dead, due to cancer (Spisska Nova Ves/Kosice area). You can tell me all you want that this data is online, I am telling you what really happened in my life. We moved to Germany once the wall fell, becasue we have family in West Germany, also and my parents wanted to get away from Slovakia. I ended up moving to the States in 2001 and became a citizen 3 years ago. I am in touch with my family in Slovakia and know and SEE what is going on there. Do yourself a favor and go visit some of the orphanages. To tell yourself that it’s manufactured crap from the govt. may feel better for your soul, but try to seek the truth. And BTW, if you think that airfare is too expensive, just see it this way: the cost of living in Chernobyl is really low. In fact, I bet you can get really cheap land for development in the area. 🙂

    1. I’d say it’s far more likley you’re an American anti-nuclear activist who thought it would be easy to spread a few lies on a pro-nuke site and not be pulled up over the nonsense you’ve spouted. You really should have read up a bit more on thyroid cancer and its characteristics before trying that on.

  21. No Craig, i am really not a human being but an alien planted here to take over the world. This is too crazy, I am outta here. Debating with irrational people who are consumed by some strange conspiracy theory who cannot even discern REALITY for themselves are just a waste of my precious time. My life is too short for that. Good luck to you in your fight for…well whatever it is that you are fighting for.

  22. No, what I’m, pointing out is that you’re apparently making an all too common error – that assuming “because I observe “x”, that must be the cause of “Y””, without understainding the probability that “Y” will occur anyhow, or that the cause of “Y” might be “A”, “B”, “C” or any other letter. For example, my own father died of oesphagal cancer, less than a decade post-Chenobyl (his brother also died of lung cancer, as did my maternal uncle).

    Does that mean I should leap to a conclusion that Chernobyl killed him?

    Hardly – it’s far more likely that the fact they were heavy smokers played a role…

    For example, you note that your relatives grew up in Soviet era Slovakia – not a time or place known for it’s control of chemical pollutants, or promotion of a healthy lifestyle – I understand, for example, that something approaching 60% of Slovak men in that era smoked, that control of everything from basic chemical pollutant such as SO2 to organphosphates was negligible.

    Attmepting to draw conclusions in the absence of epidemiological experience, in this area, is asking for trouble.

    And no, none of the regions you mention seem to have suffered unusual adult thyroid cancer rates.

  23. Living in Europe I have been told first hand stories similar to Chernobyl Survivors account over the years but never really paid much attention i guess, and to be precise i think many are not knowledgeable about the different types of cancer. I certainly was not until my mother passed away a couple of years ago. until then cancer was just cancer. I don’t think debunking his assertion of thyroid cancer makes his story any less believable as his is the experience suffered by many after Chernobyl.

    Incidentally I know two people whose mothers had to have one lung removed due to tumors, neither of them smokers. one from Poland and the other from Romania. Then just recently i was speaking with a relative of my girlfriends, she was a friend of a nuclear worker in the Vandellos nuclear power plant near Valencia in Spain. Unit 1 suffered a fire in 89. He (the worker) said the incident was far more serious than reported and that unit 1 was now encased in concrete. His wife recently passed away from a brain tumor, and in the last two decades she said many people were very sick and many died in the nearby area. I just tried to find info on that accident and there is very little and claims to have been just a fire in the turbine. But I did read the IAEA had reported it as the most serious accident since Chernobyl, but then later retracted that statement. sorry i lost the page that came from.
    Seeing all this denial about the risks of fallout, if asked who to believe I cant help but think that a senior Spanish woman without any motive or knowledge of nuclear power except my probing questions told me all that, well there must be some truth in it.
    Of course someone will rip this up as being unscientific. so be it, but as we are seeing in Japan now, the truth is being obscured, and the same is true of every single incident I read about. If they could have got away without anyone being the wiser then they would have. And in the case of Vandellos probably did.

    1. http://www.iaea.org/ns/tutorials/regcontrol/appendix/app96.htm

      The 1989 incident at the Vandellos nuclear power plant in Spain did not result in an external release of radioactivity, nor was there damage to the reactor core or contamination on site. However, the damage to the plant’s safety systems due to fire degraded the defence-in-depth significantly. The event is classified as Level 3, based on the defence-in-depth criterion.

      I can’t find anything to back up your story, Joe. Yet again we’re seeing anti-nuclear activists attempt to drum up fear by resorting to unsubstantiated claims. This is beyond pathetic.

    2. Vandellos 1 certainly isn’t “encased in concrete” Joe – the Spanish are cooperating with we Brits and the French on looking at decommisioning methods for gas-graphite plants – including removal of internals, which wouldn’t be the case if what you claim were the case.


      And with the best will in the world, memory is fallible – or at least, interpretation is an issue.

      The turbogenerator fire was classed at “3” on the incident scale, because it posed a threat to shutdown systems. That would, probably have been sufficient to class it as the worst “incident in Europe since Chernobyl” – since there are only a few incidents even rating to such a level (which basically is one where things COULD have led to a release, but didn’t).

      As to “many people becoming sick” – well unless you believe the entire European medical establishment has been somehow subverted, you’ll have to believe what the various caner registies and epidmioliogical studies have to say – like this one:


      As to a “senior spanish woman” – well, my mother’s a “senior english woman” who’s known quite a few people die of cancer (as I noted upthread, including her husband and her brother). She’s got all sorts of ideas about what causes cancer (including the idea that my father’s oesophagal cancer was nothing to do with his smoking, but must have come about because the medical profession didn’t treat an earlier stomach ulcer properly…(?)). I’m not about to assume that “there must be some truth in it” simply because she says it.

    3. Joe, just a question for you. No tricks or “gotchas” but your honest gut impulse answer:

      What’s more terrifying to you; 100 people stricken with some form of cancer inducing radioactive particle or 100k people down with carbon caused lung cancers. I’m NOT asking you which is Worst, but which strikes the most Terror in you.

      James Greenidge

      1. Lol- 100 million people stricken with some form of cancer inducing radioactive particle perhaps.

        Non-naturally occurring problematic matter will always scare me more than naturally occurring toxins, however lethal. Most natural chemical structures change over time and break down into their component parts.

        Dioxins concern me more than tobacco, though smoking is probably more of a risk.

        Its partly about choice, most things can be avoided, we cant choose the air we breath and to a large extent the food and water we consume.

        And also persistence, As with dioxins, lots of these radioactive isotopes have long lives and once released into the environment they just keep accumulating.

        1. You do understand that the length of the half-life and the intensity of the radiation emitted by an isotope are inversely proportional.

          Also most radioactive isotopes do not accumulate in the environment, the very active ones decay away, and the chemistry of many of the others does not cause them to concentrate in biological systems.

          You misinformed BS might find an audience among the ignorant, but not here. You know very little about this subject, how do you justify the belief that you can comment on it with those that do?

        2. Joe, the the natural versus artificial argument.

          What’s your logical, as opposed to emotional basis for that?

          A beta particle from caesium decay is no more and no less damaging than on from radon. An alpha particle from “artificial” amerecium or plutonium is no more or no less damaging than one from “naturally occuring” uranium in coal fly-ash.

          Or do you think that a cell struck by a particle can somehow react differently
          , depending on the origin of the particle?

          I hope not, as that’s visibly arrant nonsense.

        3. My logical basis for that emotion is that adding new variables into the equation of our ecosystem is risky, especially extremely persistent ones which are essentially permanent changes. GM crops, radiation, dioxins, damage to DNA and many others, if we pass a threshold and find there is a problem then it will be extremely difficult to correct.

          And to your second question:
          I think the amount of time a cell is bombarded is relevant and is what will change depending on the origin.

        4. I think the amount of time a cell is bombarded is relevant and is what will change depending on the origin.

          Joe – You think wrong.

          If you get a millisievert of dose, then you get a millisievert of dose. It’s a time-integrated quantity. That’s why the dose rate is expressed in units like microsieverts per hour.

          The “amount of time a cell is bombarded” depends on the chemical and radiological properties of the isotope in question and the method of exposure (external, inhalation, or ingestion). The one thing that it does not depend on is the origin (naturally occurring vs. man made).

          The important considerations are factored in when converting from the activity of the material (expressed in becquerels) to dose equivalent radiation (expressed in sieverts).

          Once the dose is expressed in sieverts, the job is pretty much done. One sievert of background radiation is equivalent to one sievert from medical treatments or from nuclear bomb testing fallout or from the Chernobyl accident. The only consideration that is left is that it has been conclusively demonstrated in the scientific literature that exposure to small doses over long periods of time is significantly less dangerous than the same dose received as a one-time acute exposure.

        5. Ok sorry I misunderstood, what you both say now makes perfect sense. Andy described a cell as being struck by a particle, I took that as cell being struck by a ray from a stationary ingested particle sitting next to it.

          I Erroneously understood origin as Origin of exposure(Isotope), not synthetic vs natural.

          you said
          “The “amount of time a cell is bombarded” depends on the chemical and radiological properties of the isotope in question and the method of exposure (external, inhalation, or ingestion)”

          Which is what I was getting at further up. an ingested particle of cesium will irradiate adjacent cells for longer than radon or another short lived isotope.

          Thanks for clarifying.

  24. After watching the show tonight, I think the exclusion zone should remain a permanent wildlife reservation. Something far more remarkable than a nuclear accident has occurred there – nature has reclaimed the land and is now thriving.

    Contrary to the claims of those who said nothing would live there again, we see an abundance and variety of life that would otherwise be crowded out by a human population. Human habitation, not radiation, is the greatest threat to wildlife. Groups like the Nature Conservancy understand this.

    There were a few contradictory statements made in the film and it didn’t dive too deep into the science but it was entertaining. Given that only 25 years have passed, nature has recovered itself quite quickly from human habitation.

    1. The film isn’t yet available in the UK, so I’ve yet to see it.

      I gather there is a reference to some claim of an increased rate of birth defects in small rodents. At the same time, I’ve read (and posted upthread) references from scientists who’ve been studying these issues since soon after the accident saying that no effect exists.

      Does the film make clear what research it’s referring to?

      I’d like to check it out.

      1. It did mention there was around a 4% birth defect rate in some mice but no reference of what study that came from. The wolf pups seemed very healthy. Bison have been introduced into the area and beavers have helped restore the natural wetlands that existed there before, though they still have a long ways to go before the swamps are fully restored. From a certain perspective, one would think the Chernobyl accident was an environmentalist’s dream come true.

        They might post it on their youtube channel soon enough.

        1. first comment – trying from my phone, google only brings up three hits for

          (chernobyl mice “birth defects”, all of which ultimately link back to the retracted study I quoted upthread.

          My initial reaction is we’ve got yet another example of a scare being perpetuated long after its been shown there’s no reliable underpinning evidence.

          I think it may be possible to contact the filmaker, to find out what the basis for the claim was.

  25. I haven’t seen this link posted here yet, so for those who missed the original broadcast, it is here (50 minutes): http://video.pbs.org/video/2157025070/

    I’ve just gotten around to watching it. The photography is superb, but the background music inevitably tends toward ominous strains when the reactor site is shown. Must be something in the journalistic DNA that makes this obligatory.

    The documentary makes clear (without saying so) that this is a human exclusion area solely by administrative fiat, not by natural necessity. Occasionally there is pure narrative BS, like “if [the scientists] were to ingest a single [radioactive wolf] hair, they would be poisoned”.

    Towards the end, we see that even a seriously malfunctioning reactor is infinitely kinder to raptor populations than an equivalent group of normally functioning windmills.

    The authorities should go ahead and ratify what nature and circumstance have already begun – declare a Chernobyl Wildlife Preserve and Nature Park. Let the eco-tourism (and radiophobia debunking) begin.

    1. The hair comment caught my attention too, same as touching the dirt with their own hands could also prove to be harmfull.

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