Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fukushima Hysteria

I am getting heartily sick of some of the reporting on the nuclear reactor thing going on in Japan. Trying to wean facts from hyperbole and hysteria is getting very difficult. A recent news report I watched started off with groups of Japanese crying then segued into a shot of another group of them standing about in masks, in the rain, holding up umbrellas. Apparently the first group of people were very upset about what was happening with the reactors, whilst the people in the second group were protecting themselves from potential fall-out by donning masks and putting up umbrellas.


Of course the reporter concerned did not state this outright but rather used mealy-mouthed language to imply it. Now, there’s been an earthquake, a tsunami, thousands of people have lost their homes, thousands have lost their lives, thousands have lost relatives … could this be the reason some are crying? Also, did you notice the early reports about all this from Tokyo? Even during the earthquake people were wandering about with paper masks on their faces. Now this strikes me as odd and perhaps the Japanese have been far to enamoured with Michael Jackson, but they were wearing masks before anyone even mentioned those scary words 'radiation' and 'melt-down'. And, just a thought here, could they have had umbrellas up because it was raining?

Upwards of ten thousand people have been killed and I suspect that when the final figures comes in it is going to be multiples of that. Tens of thousands are homeless, without water and power, struggling to get enough to eat, might at any moment be hit by another tsunami, yet the TV news focus is moving away from that. Now we have chest-beating reporters telling us about reactor buildings exploding and coming apart just like they are designed to, about ‘melt-down’ in reactors built to contain it, about a hysteria-driven safe evacuation of people probably way beyond what is necessary.

But yes, everything that is happening with these reactors is news, but really there should be more sense of proportion. The Fukushima nuclear power station 'disaster' is serious, but campared to everything else all around it, it's like a few shell bursts amidst the Somme.

If you want a real perspective on this go here, and read the updates. And let me finish with a quote from the same source:

The lesson so far: Japan suffered an earthquake and tsunami of unprecedented proportion that has caused unbelievable damage to every part of their infrastructure, and death of very large numbers of people. The media have chosen to report the damage to a nuclear plant which was, and still is, unlikely to harm anyone. We won’t know for sure, of course, until the last measure to assure cooling is put in place, but that’s the likely outcome. You’d never know it from the parade of interested anti-nuclear activists identified as “nuclear experts” on TV.


Jebel Krong said...

people wear masks (especially on the underground) because of the pollution, hence all the people wandering around tokyo on a daily basis with them...

i admit i've stopped watching the news reports (&the usual bbc biased crap), because they blatantly have no idea what they're talking about - especially when they wheel on "experts" who are observing indirectly and commenting - no doubt the situation is serious but scaremongering on this scale seem totally politically/headline-grabbing rather than factual reporting.

Xanares said...

I fortunately don't watch the mainstream news much..

There is a good article about the overreaction here too:

Jimmy Devine said...

Watched Channel 4 news last might, just astounded by the footage coming in of the inundation of the North East coast, I know light water reactors + cooling failure is bad news, but compared to the destruction visited by the waves, its small potatoes. We live in amazing times, with near realtime views of most major events like this and others, but all I felt watching the ocean rise up and swallow Miyagi Prefecture, was awe, awe and fear for the poor buggers trying to out run the water. We bitch on about six weeks of snow, and no gritters, but in reality, we are blessed to live on ancient basalt and granite, where the only ring of fire is to be found the morning after last nights curry.

Collin said...

I was linked to, through Twitter, the articles from bravenewclimate.com yesterday, and have been passing the link on as much as I can because it's one of the only places describing what's going on by a person who actually understands nuclear reactors. The amount of fear mongering and distribution of misinformation in the US media about Fukushima has been outrageous. Too many people assume what the media reports is the absolute truth when it often isn't or is only part of the story (that'll bring in the most viewers, readers, and subsequently advertising money).

Joe Mansfield said...

You got it perfectly there Neal - the mainstream media's hyping of the "Nuclear Catastrophe" threat is obscene given the fact that there is a real catastrophe happening. None of the coverage I've seen apart from from specialist sites and blogs (WNN and the like) has made the point you did - there are bad things happening but the complex has been designed with multiple containment layers, including a deep layer of graphite\concrete to capture the fuel even in a full meltdown scenario. Even with the failures so far they have remained able to take actions - and this is after a Mag 9 earthquake and a 10m Tsunami having hit. Rather than wailing about the "nuclear peril" they should be slack jawed in amazement at the resilience of the engineering.

Here's a really good view from someone on the ground who knows what he's talking about.

beak said...

I believe the BBC has reported that people have been 'geiger countered'.

no, really.

Anonymous said...

I was listening Today on Radio 4 yesterday AM and, when I heard them inteviewing some total cretin (allegedly an expert), advising that there was a strong possibility of a "nuclear explosion" at the site, I nearly put my fist through the radio trying to get at his moronic, sensationalist know-fuck-all gob.

Neal Asher said...

Alex, in fact I've seen film of that. The point is that they are taking huge over-the-top precautions probably because they know how hysterical people get when they hear the word 'nuclear'.

American election poster: How many people died at Three Mile Island? One less than died at Chappaquiddick...

Total actual deaths at Chernobyl: 57.

Andrew said...

Have started watching Sky News because of the awful, awful quality of reporting and journalism on the BBC.

They need to climb out of their own arses.

And sky is not that much better.

Neal Asher said...

Rob, so the guys working the Manhattan Project were wasting their time. Nuclear it go bam.

Neal Asher said...

Andrew, I agree, but as yuo found with Sky it's not much better elsewhere on TV. The report I mention in this post was on ITV. Of course the problem with these news programs, as mentioned here, is that most people aren't watching them with any skepticism.

Anonymous said...

I have just remembered I have a luminous compass from my old army days in the attic.
Made the mistake of letting the Beeb know, and there's now an exclusion zone around my house and a rush on lead underpants at the local pound shop. Doomed, I tells ya!

Neal Asher said...

I like this one in the Register:

Xanares said...

Good recap of current situation here too: http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=2463325

Collin said...

I've been hearing and reading some reports that some French experts, of whom I can find nothing that sites who they actually are, are declaring the incident a 6 out of 7 on the INES Scale. However, Japanese experts are saying it's a 4 out of 7.

Based on the 6 out of 7 rating the media is calling Fukushima the second worst nuclear accident in history. Not knowing what this scale since the reports I heard on my way out the door heading to work did not say what the scale was. The Wikipedia on the INES scale also lists another level 6 incident called the Kyshtym disaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyshtym_disaster). The event, while not a nuclear plant but at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Russia, created a "radioactive cloud [that] moved towards the northeast, reaching 300–350 kilometers from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 square kilometers, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90."

Granted, the Fukushima is still an ongoing event, but unless things get much, much worse than the current situation I fail to see how other than a PR disaster things could be worse than what happened at the Kyshtym disaster.

Also, here's the Wiki pages on the INES Scale http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Nuclear_Event_Scale

Collin said...

Pardon the deleted post, I thought one of my links got cut off but it didn't.

Anyways, here's another good site for updates and information: http://mitnse.com/

Neal Asher said...

Register one posted again as a tiny url:

Chrish said...

Never watch the news, no brain of mine will get washed ;) Read teletext, make my own choice, pick up a paper every now and then just to check if the Huns are threatening the eastern border again. (I live in the Netherlands;)
On the other hand, I like to look at it the zen way, this all is the current state of affairs, this is the level of intelligence of the general public, useless to get worked up about it, just will give you an ulcer :)

Neal Asher said...

Well that last line is one I should learn, really, chris.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

ok, back up, so you mean to tell me that people were not injured in the last explosion (one person seriously)? there has not been a rupture of the steel container that may seep into soil, water, whatever is slinking around *experts* at the steel base of the penetrated reactor?

the Fukishima facility failed 15 years ago. Japan said "it is no problem, we have released steam."
it is no problem. that's the usual solution to problems. voice of authority.

they also pumped up the earthquake to a 9.

they also say their rice is 100% the best in the world. (we all know that German rice is the best).

you're gonna get some twisted facts from this whole situation if you listen to the Japanese authorities on anything, and it's always been that way. same with the mainstream. just a little deeper without the infotainment sources and you might be really. surprised at what a piece of shit that nuke plant is. back up-fail.
flim flam-win.

after the first failure the assurance was 'this can never happen again, even during an earthquake. japanese reactors are the safest in the world.'

Neal Asher said...

It's bad, Vaude, but my Somme analogy still applies - a few people injured, or killed even, is not 10,000 people. I think it's also true what they say in the article: we should be amazed at how little damage was done, under the circumstances.

Andrew said...

Yes, I agree. I am coming to the conclusion that mainstream media journalism is bad across the board.

They really do not credit us with brain cells. Or else the general public are too stupid or too lazy to think about something more intelligent than a talent show.

Xanares said...

Sensationalism > Journalism

billd said...

Yeah, anti-nuclear energy lobby will be driving around in their electric cars getting excited..and now we have the "how many people died directly from nuclear power vs falling off of roofs installing solar panels" argument: http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/deaths-per-twh-for-all-energy-sources.html (saw this on Charles Stross blog). I have no idea if those numbers are sound, but where there's an argument there's always some stat's...

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

but...this should not have happened under any circumstances given the reassurances of the Japanese govt lying about how safe the rod cooling system was, so radioactive steam would not be released again under grave circumstances. lets make that earthquake a 10, why not? unprecedented lie factors can be worked into this lack of safe building. given the way most electrical and plumbing systems are in Japan (a joke), you're going to see a whole lot of sewage coming out of places they didn't before over there. physically and vocally.
yes the journalism is skewed. Japan is insanely reassuring (always), we have as good of an idea of what's really going on, probably more than the people over there. getting thru the glowy muck, bottom line is, these advanced children around the world are fucking around with technology that is over their heads with a shelf life of 30 years of poisoned ground area, or more, if the rods go rogue and decide to look for love outside the box.

give these folks a (little) pinwheel and a solar panel, that might work in the big pic.

the face mask and umbrella thing has been around since the 60s at least. ride ANY bus or rail line in the morning to work and you will see young and old. male, female, with these. crowd-caution, the japanese way.
i hope you complain to these moron bbc/a.d.d.tv whatevers about the stupidity they are propagating instead of 'we the skinners'. send a link of this post. otherwise we're in an isolation think tank with other like minded leechwhelks.

here's a good one finally:
Yukiya Amano:'The cause of the fire at unit #4 is unknown.'
no authority. no idea. no shit.

i was trying to find this partial hysteria killer, watch free:

still, this evacuation should not have happened. this disaster should have been expected. the plant should have been fixed 15 years ago.

on the dark side of Chernobyl, having no economy to deal with the continuous slow-melt seepage of the disaster, will it hit Russia's biggest drinking water supplying river? get your 20 yr supply of popcorn, sit back and get ready to sigh.

ps: i don't watch any of that ministem mainstream stuff, and am in bibbleland with the fishtians usa with no tv set. i tuned into NHK for a little while via internet and it was pretty lame. they showed footage and that was about it. some had safety helmets on in the news room.

Neal Asher said...

It's interesting seeing the disparities in the reporting, Vaude. The reporter on the scene makes said report as dramatic as possible. Last night it was a catastrophic radiation leak from the reporter on the ground and now over to our expert in the studio. Erm, it's about the radiation level of a CAT scan. The look on the reporter's face was a picture on hearing that. Hey, we're reading from different scripts!

The whole tone of this is hysterical hype. They keep showing groups of people wearing masks whilst reporting on radiation, thus implying a connection. The language too is over the top. Today workers were 'evacuated' because of high radiation levels. As opposed to workers, who are perfectly well aware of what the radiation levels are, took the precaution of leaving the plant.

The points you make are valid, Vaude. But I know for damned sure that this is being used by the green-is-queen humanity hating hair-shirt environmentalists to try and kill nuclear power.

Wanker of the week prize has to go to some shaven-headed twat last night discussing the papers. He sounded perfectly reasonable and calm as he uttered the line, 'Everything man-made is destructive.'

Neal Asher said...

Billd, I swiped this from the comments on the Bishop Hill blog just for you:

"Candles have killed 126 – in just one year and a single country! Having a reliable supply of electricity would mean less use of candles, and so lives would be saved."


Jebel Krong said...

if it was a catastrophic radiation leak (what a sad joke), the reporter sure as shit wouldn't be standing there. the situation is increasingly serious, but even worst-case it's never going to be a another chernobyl...

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

anyone have a guess where the newest coolant; radioactive seawater is going?

the evacuations, for how long burning question-the 20 year caesium life sticking around in your average neighborhood with some (you never know pal) chromosome damage (safety first, japan pseudo law)?

how absolute is the stranglehold of plutonium rod use (hard to find disposal chutes in japan for these spent rods) as a necessary evil compared to the renewable free stuff they can use by the sea (sea itself, sun, hated offshore pinwheels)?

why the second failure after correcting the cooling system the first time 15 years ago?

most important: the price of japanese rice compared to the free stuff the world is trying to force on them?

if you can answer these, make your way up to the local tv network and take over. these talking glass teat glazemorons are most likely going off of what they gleaned from a CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN rerun. easy cash there apparently.

Xanares said...

Haha Neal, if he added: "Man is a sinful unthinking animal", it would be almost completely taken out of Atlas Shrugged.

I guess Rand saw all this bs happen in former USSR.

Chrish said...

We have believers on both sides I reckon ;)

David said...

Capt. Tenille: Simpson, as you have experience in a nuclear power plant, you can serve on a submarine.
Homer: It's pronounced 'nucular'. Nucular.

Neal Asher said...

Righto, Merkel has ordered 17 nuclear plants taken offline for safety checks after all this. So I suppose we can expect an 8.9 quake and 10 metre tsunami in northern Europe sometime soon.

I think the only response to all this is just to point and giggle.

Jebel Krong said...

an excuse for european beaurocrats/"health and safety brigade" to "justify" their salaries and expense accounts for the sake of all mankind?! OH YES!!

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

ya know that germany was going to shut down all nuke plants at some point because of their susceptibilities to an attack from above?

you can compromise germany by knocking down the power in a few different ways. power out, then the radioactive mess around the water systems. now is as good of time as any to start the snowball rolling.

george dudya probably made some threat to her when he tried to giver her a shoulder rub. 'heh heh, y'kno, we can kill you like snap. how's that feel?'

Unknown said...

I read somewhere the Fukushima plant was designed to withstand a 8.2 magnitude earthquake, so the fact that it took 11 times that energy without simply collapsing says a lot about the quality of its engineering.

Unknown said...

Neal, finished reading now the bravenewclimate.com links you provided. Excellent piece of info, it certainly puts some sense in all the media circus we're witnessing.

Neal Asher said...

"Early today the FCO urged Britons to remain outside an 80km (50 mile) radius of the plant as an additional precautionary measure."

We are living in the age of stupid. Why? Here's why:

Radiation dose rates obey physical laws - if you double your distance from the source, you reduce the rate by a factor of four. If you reduce your time in the area with a high dose rate, you reduce your total dose proportionally.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

one guy emailed that the spent rods around the plant were going to explode.

naw, just a lil' exposed for the folks to look at.

did you see the microbe slave fuel? violating speciest labor laws: