Viewpoint: We should stop running away from radiation (via BBC)

From BBC

More than 10,000 people have died in the Japanese tsunami and the survivors are cold and hungry. But the media concentrate on nuclear radiation from which no-one has died – and is unlikely to.

Modern reactors are better designed than those at Fukushima – tomorrow’s may be better still

Nuclear radiation at very high levels is dangerous, but the scale of concern that it evokes is misplaced. Nuclear technology cures countless cancer patients every day – and a radiation dose given for radiotherapy in hospital is no different in principle to a similar dose received in the environment.

What of Three Mile Island? There were no known deaths there.

And Chernobyl? The latest UN report published on 28 February confirms the known death toll – 28 fatalities among emergency workers, plus 15 fatal cases of child thyroid cancer – which would have been avoided if iodine tablets had been taken (as they have now in Japan). And in each case the numbers are minute compared with the 3,800 at Bhopal in 1984, who died as a result of a leak of chemicals from the Union Carbide pesticide plant.

This is the hopeless nonsense I have to read day by day, hour by hour, trying to stay on top of the crisis.

It is utterly typical. Here you see a very, very careful parsing of the facts along with some cute phrasing – “Nuclear technology cures countless cancer patients every day – and a radiation dose given for radiotherapy in hospital is no different in principle to a similar dose received in the environment.” – meant to impress the yokels. The deaths in Chernobyl were artificially kept low by the Soviet Union. Deaths among the “liquidators” is now reported to be in the thousands.

Very carefully not mentioned are the 10,800 square miles of land no one can live on. That 10,800 square mile figure demonstrate simply and more eloquently than my poor skills the intellectual bankruptcy of this man’s ridiculous argument.

A portion of the surface of the earth cannot be safely lived on by mankind but since there are few reported deaths, it’s not that big a deal.

But let us cut through some more nonsense. The dangers of a situation cannot be intelligently measured by how many people have died so far. Six reactors came dangerously close and may yet meltdown destroying thousands of square miles that will be uninhabitable for generations.

The radiation levels in the area, measured in the thousands and in some places hundreds of thousands of times the recommended dose, are going to cause harm for generations.

This is also not that big a deal as far as our bold author is concerned.

Apparently, unless nuclear power takes the gloves off and whacks people left and right dropping them right here, right now, it’s not a big deal.

Well, I disagree.

James Pilant

Greenpeace Says Evacuation Area Near Fukushima Needs to be 20 km Wider (via flying cuttlefish picayune)

Here’s another reblog from our friend, “flying cuttlefish picayune.” (If anybody knows if when referring to a web blog and the title isn’t capitalized, if I should capitalize it, let me know.)

It’s nice to know that other bloggers are working the problem.

James Pilant

From Greenpeace – Call to widen evacuation area around Fukushima Blogpost by Brian Fitzgerald – March 27, 2011 at 19:40 Our team of radiation specialists in Japan brought back their findings for the day. The press release says it all: Fukushima, March 27, 2011:       Greenpeace radiation experts have confirmed radiation levels of up to ten micro Sieverts per hour in Iitate village, 40km northwest of the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear p … Read More

via flying cuttlefish picayune