Friday, March 25, 2011
Do you think radiation is safe? It seems some governments do....
Just as with the Gulf oil spill - where BP, government spokesmen and mainstream talking heads spewed happy talk about how "benign" the dispersants were and how all the oil had disappeared - there is now an avalanche of statements that the radiation is at "safe" doses for everyone outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima.
For example, Japanese government call-in advice lines are telling people to simply rinse off any produce covered with radioactive dust.
Ann Coulter claims that radiation is good for you
It is not very confidence-inspiring that:
EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California.
Or that the EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.
What Levels of Radiation Are Being Released?
So what levels of radiation are being released at Fukushima?
New Scientist reports that the radioactive fallout from Japan is approaching Chernobyl levels:
Japan's damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.
Tyler Durden points out that - when you consider the fact that the amount of Caesium-137 released at Fukushima in the first 3-4 days of the crisis amounted to 50% that released by Chernobyl over 10 days - the real run rate of the radiation released at Fukushima is now about 120-150% the figure released by the Chernobyl explosion.
There are other signs of high levels radiation. See this and this. And it is important to remember that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.
This Could Continue for a While
Many experts say that it could take months to contain Fukushima. See this and this. And therefore, high radiation levels might continue to be released for some time.
Evidence for the fact that a quick fix is unlikely is widespread. For example, reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 were all leaking steam yesterday.