Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japan Nuclear Update: Fear and Loathing about Fukushima

It hasn't taken very long for the charlatans and plain fear mongers to try to capitalize on the situation in Japan. I recently saw a banner ad on my web site for a company shilling a supplement to prevent radiation injury to Americans. I am not going to link to the company and give them free publicity.

To be very clear:
The EPA agrees with me without using all caps.
professor from Berkeley agrees with me.

Those who have a memory longer than a year may recall two nuclear weapons detonated OVER Japan a few decades ago. The amount of nuclear radiation emitted from those events were several orders of magnitude higher than the current situation yet we didn't have anyone dying in America did we?

This chart from has been floating about showing the relative levels of radiation and I think one should really take a look at it to put some of the news reports in context.  One problem is our instruments are so sensitive that its very possible in America to detect the slightly elevated levels of radiation that have made it to our shores.  Then again, getting on an airplane would provide a much higher dose but that doesn't seem to be mentioned at the same time the TV breathlessly tells you the clouds of nuclear radiation are coming this way.

There's been reports plutonium has been found on the grounds of the Fukushima power plants and we should all hit the panic button  Plutonium is a natural by product of the normal fission cycle which occurs in a power plant. What they didn't mention in the first reports is the scale of the plutonium concentration and that matters a lot. For some sanity I suggest you listen to this interview:

Tepco came out with some clarification of the Plutonium and it's not something to worry about

Finding people in Japan:
The red cross has another site for finding people in Japan here:
I mentioned another site run by Google a couple days ago.

Predictions for cleanup taking 30 years:
I ran across a Bloomberg article predicting it will take 30 years and billions to clean this mess up. I link to it so we can see how accurate they are. I find it odd to make such predictions when the smoke hasn't even settled.

There's an interesting presentation by Arevea floating around which appears to give a good timeline of what has happened. Of course this is a theory regarding the damage of the cooling torus but it does look like a possible reason for the elevated radiation readings in the water.

I'm not trying to sugar coat the issue in Japan which is still volatile and dangerous but please respond to any positive or negative news reports with a healthy dose of skepticism.


  1. the govmint will lie-paper-over any radiaton danger as they have with the financial collapse and unemployment figures.

  2. 4000 people around chernobyl died of thyroid cancer-by far the worst death-effect from fallout. potassium iodine taken every few hours does negate that, saturating your throid with iodine so it won't hold the 1odine 131 isotope......but that is for people a whole lot closer to fukishima than us.

    in a meltdown would NO ONE in the americas be affected in ANY way?....hardly....

    but driving your car will still be more dangerous.

  3. Any radiation that makes it to America is so dispersed that there are no measurable risks. Living at a higher altitude like Colorado or flying in a plane will give you more radiation.

  4. i agree that it is completely blown out of porportion by some.

    again, i'm in more danger driving to the end of the block.