ANS Nuclear Cafe: Laymen refute pro-nuclear spin on Fukushima

In a discussion under Spent fuel at Fukushima Daiichi safer than asserted a few persons, declaring themselves as laymen in nuclear reactors and nuclear medicine, easily refute the article and the comments by aloof, patronizing, condescending “experts” who need to stoop to ad hominem and straw-men to defend their lost position. Japan has shut down all of its reactors by now.
What a sad state of nuclear affairs! The article and apologist comments are typical of the denial and deception by corporations (e.g. Monsanto, Dow…) and industries (Big Pharma, Big Oil…) that are a danger to humanity, not just the nuclear one. One more reason NOT to trust the nuclear industry fanatics. Or paid shills? Yet, they constantly smear anti-nukers (Gundersen, Caldicott, Alvarez…) as motivated by profit and irrational hate of the atom.
“Challenging” his opponent in a series of ad hominem, one of them shares his nuclear mindset; sample comments below it [my inserts in brackets]:
DV82XL | May 21, 2012 at 14:39

See it’s easy, I’ll state mine:
I support nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is one of the great scientific discoveries of the past century and represents a valuable piece of intellectual capital to be passed on to future generations. Nuclear energy is a nearly carbon-free electricity generation source and benefits from a large and diversified fuel resource base. Nuclear power plants are extremely competitive in nearly all market conditions as they have very low sensitivity to fuel costs.
In my opinion the nuclear case is sound. Long-term resources exist; current technology is mature and enjoys excellent records in terms of safety and environmental protection; future technologies focusing on efficient use of fuel resources and minimization of waste production are under development; and competitiveness with fossil fuel for base-load electricity generation is real. Such strengths support the idea that nuclear energy should make the most significant contribution to a sustainable energy future and the security of energy supplies and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner.
Now you try.

Devon | May 16, 2012 at 18:12

Your entire justification of why things can’t worse is based around a sizable seismic event being ‘impossible.’
…the same kind of event which occurred just last year.
You also seem to think that TEPCO’s (who has had a very solid history of covering their own ass over the last year) seismic surveys of 4 buildings that they can’t even go inside of are bulletproof.
Tepco themselves have little to no idea what is happening under their own melted through reactors. How they could perform a comprehensive seismic survey of their damaged buildings I have no idea.
Then you reference “NUREG /CR-4982, “Severe Accidents in Spent Fuel Pools in support of Generic Safety Issue 82,” to say “Brookhaven National Laboratory, indicates that the likelihood of seismically induced spent fuel pool failure may be as low as 1 X 10-10 occurrences per reactor year, which is a statistically insignificant rate of occurrence.”
As if Brookhaven National Laboratory, in 2009, somehow simulated a 9.0 earthquake destroying a reactor building that had ALL of its active AND spent fuel rods in the cooling pond which was also blown up and their assessment of the ‘risk of seismically induced spent fuel pool failure’
….that report has no relevance to the situation whatsoever.
Assertion 1: Still exists
Assertion 2: Was the same as assertion 1
Assertion 3 is based upon on assertion 1 being bulletproof, which has already been shown to be silly.
Of course the rods aren’t going to spontaneously catch fire. As you yourself say, they’ll only catch fire if they stop getting watered. No shit.
This one had me laughing… “Further, even under the wild assumption that the buildings somehow collapsed, all of the other resources on site, and remotely off site, are still available to move in and provide cooling for the fuel.”
As if the resources on site would be able to get close enough to the collapsed radioactive mess that they’d be effective. And that’s when the fire would start.
On the cladding comment… the fuel has already completley melted the cladding in at least a couple of the reactors. Melt-through has been acknowledged by TEPCO (after months of lying about it.)
“In addition, in order for a “cataclysmic” spread of the radionuclides contained in this spent fuel to occur, we can see that a massive fire is needed to both release the material and provide a driving head (or “loft”) to spread it to the winds. It’s clear that no such fire is possible, given the above information. The assertions simply fall apart. Assertion 3: False”
It could be a fire. It could be an explosion produced by the fissioning of water due to fuel that wasn’t being cooled due to a seismic event. The fuel in spent pool 4 already caught fire once, on March 17, 2011.
Basically, your entire argument rests on the fact that such an earthquake that would destabilize these buildings is ‘impossible.’ (Already happened.) and that the things wouldn’t catch fire even if they collapsed because the cooling systems are bulletproof. (Already failed, when they were not cobbled together like so many legos in the dark.)

[PB: Being within design criteria for the facility, the earthquake did not directly damage the Daiichi plant. Officially, the tsunami flooding of equipment did. Most likely, a sabotage was done (likely with Stuxnet, earthquake highly unlikely, contrary to “expert” pronouncements at ANS Nuclear Cafe). Multiple safety systems have ALL failed.]


Carl Lumma | May 19, 2012 at 15:36

This is a grade-A example of a response from the nuclear industry that does more harm than good. Fortunately there’s little chance much of Alvarez’s audience will read it. But we should learn from it — learn what not to do.
It’s known that denials can have unintended consequences. This has been studied by psychologists, but the famous phrases “any press is good press” and “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” should be enough to convince us to 1. be very careful before responding to people like Alvarez at all and 2. write responses that aren’t denials when we do.
We tend to get caught up in the details of what people like Alvarez say. For example, I’d really like to point out that the UC Berkeley blowtorch test Davis mentions is completely misleading — and that he even seems to know it (“chemistry of rapid oxidation … is complex”)! — since the most common clad failure involves an oxidation reaction with water, which, in fact, occurred in 3 out of 6 reactors at the FD1 site only a year ago, and which, in fact, produced the H2 that damaged the spent fuel pool we’re talking about!
But those are details. Why should the public trust our details more than Alvarez’s? They don’t generally. And in the case of Fukushima, they trust Alvarez more. Because before the accident, Alvarez et al said,
“LWRs are unsafe in case of earthquake.”
and we said,
“LWRs are safe in case of earthquakes.”
And it turns out that gen-II LWRs have a really bad failure mode around SBO, which can be caused by an earthquake. And none of the people claiming LWRs were safe knew anything about the particular robustness of the electrical service to FD1 units 1-3. And reactors of this type will all fail the exact same way under this condition, like clockwork.
Even during the accident, we asserted that an explosion was unlikely, and then that a second explosion was unlikely (Barry Brook called it “almost impossible”), while Alvarez et al shouted imminent danger. Finally Rod Adams declared he needed a break to practice some humility. A year later none of that humility can be found. Adams opined that the present piece should be titled “…Are Safe” rather than “..Safer Than Asserted”. (“Safe”, of course, should be banned entirely from pro-fission discourse since it is quantitatively meaningless.)
So in this case, we have LESS credibility than Alvarez. But that doesn’t even matter — I’m still getting distracted with details. This is what Alvarez is really saying:
**IF** the spent fuel pool collapses, there will be dire consequences for human civilization.
Will Davis replies (once meaningless details are stripped away):
“The spent fuel pools will not collapse.”
Well, if he’s saying that, then the latter part of Alvarez’s claim must be true. The consequences for human civilization MUST be dire, or Will Davis wouldn’t bother to say they’re unlikely (which of course, we don’t believe, and don’t have the quantitative training to scale the likelihood even if we did).
*That* is how Alvarez’s audience would interpret this piece, if they were by some accident to visit the ANS Nuclear Cafe.
The correct response is to *call out* Alvarez to give a quantitative assessment of the risk to civilization (assuming the pool *does* collapse). Then to confirm or refute that quantity, and compare it, or the correct quantity, with risks the public are familiar with.
Then and only then do you offer to weight that risk by the likelihood of the pool collapsing.
It’s very important to understand that the **IF** is the strongest part of Alvarez’s statement. Because people react much worse to uncertainty than to certainty. A few social psychologists have even studied this in the context of nuclear accidents. It’s the ongoing uncertainty during the accident sequence, and the powerlessness of governments to stop it, that causes the dread. The news story about a natgas explosion in San Bruno is retrospective: “Family and loved ones are dealing with the tragedy”.
We would have done better to get on the news and say, “Look, we’re 12 hours into a LOCA with three early-model BWRs. 10,000 people have been washed out to sea, so there’s a real chance the Japanese won’t have the capability to restore power in time to prevent fuel melts at these units. Radioactive pollution has already been vented from the reactors and more will probably escape before the fuel solidifies. Molten fuel usually produces hydrogen gas, which can be explosive if it is trapped in a confined space. The hydrogen is not radioactive. The radioactive pollution released will be mostly in the form of iodine and cesium, which can escape from the reactors as vapor. The iodine disappears by itself in about a month. The Japanese will likely quarantine local dairy products for this period. Half of the cesium disappears every 30 years. It’s easy to detect, and after the accident is over, studies will be done to determine the precise amount that was released and the danger, if any, it represents.”
Instead, the nuclear industry was silent, and the public could only hear the ravings of Chairman Wacko.
Probably no response to Alvarez was warranted. If it was, it should be done in the places he frequents, in front of his audience, and it should call him out to demonstrate his supposed expertise. The benchmark for the response must be to *reduce uncertainty in his audience* (as opposed to proving that there is some sort of debate about the likelihood of the pool collapsing). -Carl

[PB: Carl forgot to mention dozens other isotopes in Fukushima emissions (incl. uranium and plutonium),  the global reach of the pollution, and long-term health effects, incl. genetic, for generations to come. But how can a group of technocrats brainwashed into embracing nuclear power and weapons without due regard for the risks to health, be objective?]

Bill Rodgers | May 22, 2012 at 16:43

@Mr. Lumma,
I realize it is late into this discussion but as one of the collaborators of the original article I wanted to discuss some of the issues you bring to the table. There are two main themes to discuss about your post. The first is the communications angle and the second response will deal with the technical issues you discuss.
I agree a response to articles such as those published by Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Gundersen are always a challenge. Will the response be seen as a knee jerk reaction or is it a measured response to charges that are technically incorrect? That was a primary question asked by all who participated with this article.
First on the issue of the intended audience: This is not the first article I have assisted with over the past few months dealing with technically incorrect information about nuclear plant issues and probably will not be the last. That being said, the comments I supply while the articles are in development are more along the lines of how to reach those who are on the fence about nuclear power in addition to supplying technical information from my own nuclear background. The people on the fence are ones who lack quality information to assess the situation due to the 30+ years of fear, uncertainty and doubt the core anti-nuclear group have been constantly publishing.
My opinion is that people who follow Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Gundersen with an almost religious like devotion will never be convinced and any attempt to do so directly is an ineffective effort as indicated by the poster, Richard, below. He, like others, apparently believe that anyone who supports nuclear power are committing crimes against humanity. They are convinced the world will end because we are trying to harness the power of the atom which is a situation beyond their realm of experience and is analogous, in their view, to trying to play God with forces within the universe that we mere mortals have no business doing. So any attempts to convince that specific, relatively small audience nuclear power is relatively safe compared to other power generation technologies will always be a herculean effort.
However there are still the facts of the technically incorrect charges presented by Alvarez and the greater number of people in the middle who are not religiously devoted to an anti-nuclear position that are hearing those charges over and over. So, back the question of how to respond to technically incorrect articles that raise the fear level of the general public unnecessarily?
Engineers working in the nuclear field have learned several communications lessons from the Chernobyl and TMI incidents. The first lesson is that plant management and the politicians will more likely mangle the technical message due to incomplete information, broken communications channels due to the crisis itself, or even worse; the message is mangled for their own short term agendas as has been shown to be the case time and time again in many industries not just nuclear. This subject of technical communications problems during a crisis situation is not strictly a nuclear issue as the communications and PR surrounding the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico proved.
The second lesson engineers learned or should be learning is that silence in the face of factually incorrect charges from the anti-nuclear crowd will allow those charges to grow and take a life of their own.
For example the charge leveled by Dr. Caldicott that a million people supposedly have died or will die due to Chernobyl. That is figure is ludicrous, based on disproven research, and even resulted in the NYAS pulling their support of the original report. However due to silence at the time from people directly working on those issues, that charge from Calidcott now affects the public debate about nuclear power even after George Monbiot, a former non-nuclear supporter, called her claims into question. Her disproven claims have now become part of the urban myths and legends surrounding nuclear power that will take years to straighten out.
Trust is the central issue. Trust has always been and always will be the central issue. Who will the public trust at times like this? Not much trust can be built up if the one group who should be supplying clear explanations are either unable or not willing. In the past, many engineers who could have helped provide answers and increase the public’s education level were specifically told not to talk to the press. Additionally engineers and technical managers are not known for their ability to discuss technical issues with non-technically trained people. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has made a living from this very fact.
Blogs and other new forms of media allow not only anti-nuclear groups but also pro-nuclear groups access to forums that were never available in the past. This article was written as a direct response to technically incorrect spent fuel pool failure mechanisms laid out by the core anti-nuclear group of Alvarez, Gundersen and Caldicott. The goal of this article, and the recent articles on the SCE steam generator issues, was to put information into the public realm that previously has not been available to the general public.
Are engineers and technologists that support nuclear power going to fail getting a clear message out to the public every now and then? The answer is yes of course. We have 30 years of FUD to overcome in addition to a culturally induced mindset of not speaking to the public about nuclear power and nuclear power issues. But is better to try to communicate using the new forms of media in my opinion then to sit back and let silence rule the day.
Silence during a communications challenge such as that presented by the Fukushima issues is similar to a vacuum. The vacuum will get filled by something and it is better if those of us who support nuclear power and are willing to use new media forums work to get a technically correct message out. We will learn what works and what doesn’t over time but we won’t learn those lessons if we keep trying to have a perfect pitched message before publishing an article.

[PB:the 30+ years of fear, uncertainty and doubt the core anti-nuclear group have been constantly publishing – a meak reaction to 60+ yrs of deception and PsyOp applied by the nuclear lobby to fool the public. Blame the whistleblowers!

…people who follow Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Gundersen with an almost religious like devotion will never be convinced and any attempt to do so directly is an ineffective effort – people trust more the whisteblowers because the nuclear apologists and sites like this one don’t  establish any public trust in the nuclear industry.

…They are convinced the world will end because we are trying to harness the power of the atom which is a situation beyond their realm of experience – mocking not necessary, the facts of radiation effects on health are bad enough, but the apologists pretend they are not. Who is the ignoramus?

…relatively small audience – you wished, e.g. the Japanese after Fukushima or the Germans who are glad nuclear power will be phased out in their country?

…plant management and the politicians will more likely mangle the technical message – they mangle when it’s not to the nuclear lobby’s script?

…The second lesson engineers learned or should be learning is that silence in the face of factually incorrect charges from the anti-nuclear crowd will allow those charges to grow and take a life of their own. – Engineers are not omnipotent and have the backing of the nuclear lobby. The anti-nuclear crowd just tries to restore some balance. It’s ridiculous to compare their communication ability and propaganda resources to that of the nuclear lobby. Gee, wonder why their stories grow and take a life of their own.

charge leveled by Dr. Caldicott that a million people supposedly have died or will die due to Chernobyl. That is figure is ludicrous, based on disproven research, and even resulted in the NYAS pulling their support of the original report. – Caldicott is not the source, an assembly of hundreds of Eastern European scientific reports is, translated into English under NYAS. The research has not been refuted but smeared, typical of the nuclear lobby for data that proves their crimes against humanity.

…even after George Monbiot – wow! what a scientific authority! More here, key-in “Monbiot” in the search window.

…many engineers who could have helped provide answers and increase the public’s education level were specifically told not to talk to the press. Additionally engineers and technical managers are not known for their ability to discuss technical issues with non-technically trained people. – Poor nuclear industry, the merdia discriminate it. The engineers are forbidden to talk by the industry, lest they spill some beans. Technical nuclear people as a rule don’t have a clue on the health risks of radiation, brainwashed in engineering schools that follow the lobby spin. Independent experts on nuclear medicine are non-technically trained people? This makes the lobby technocrats omnipotent, unquestionable gods on nuclear issues. What right do they have to over-ride the independent nuclear medical voices?

…perfect pitched message – the article and discussion are a PR catastrophe for the apologists, no strategizing will change the public mindset, that stays correct  even amidst incomplete and misleading info.]


Jack | May 20, 2012 at 21:49

Given the nature of this website, it’s not unexpected that the comments are quite subjective, but is there at least any comments that are based on credible information or logic? In particular DV82XL,
“Nuclear energy is not being blocked by the likes of you, or any antinuclear activist regardless of their conceit. Nuclear energy is being fought by fossil fuel interests who naturally see it as a challenger to its supremacy. It is their machinations that is keeping nuclear from moving forward and nothing else.”
A blanket statement based on what? How is nuclear energy being blocked compared to alternative energy sources that really have been blocked like electric cars, solar, etc….there are over 400 nuclear power plants built in the span of about 70 years, that doesn’t sound like blocked to me.
“If you need any proof look to the Ban-the-Bomb movements of the past. They threw themselves against the wall for decades to no avail – nuclear weapons are still very much a factor in geopolitics in spite of being almost universally loathed. The perceived need for those weapons among those that count overrides public opinion.”
For me, there’s a fundamental flaw here. “Among those that count” – this appeal to authority fallacy suggests that for you the people that count are the politicians and business people making decisions. Fortunately the non sheeple recognize that they don’t speak for the majority. It is precisely this slave mentality that causes the mess of things like nuclear weapons, like unnecessary wars. Your “those that count” are the ones who send your children or your neighbor’s children to war while they and their children never need to serve a single day. I don’t deny that it’s a very small minority that calls the shot, but they will never be the “people that count” and meaningful change has always been a long and tough endeavor. Doesn’t make a wrong right just because those in power support it. History has shown power to be corrupt.
“The public will overcome their fear of nuclear the way they overcame their fear of falling off the end of the Earth, electricity, flying, and several other technical innovations they did not initially understand, and they did so in spite of the bellicose naysayers that tried to whip up their fears and distrust. Like those, you and your ilk are headed for the dustbin of history. I’ll no longer waste my time pandering to any of you. You do not speak for anyone.”
It’s just comical that you make yourself out to be the authoritative voice of the public. Your straw man examples are clearly not comparable to the issue of nuclear energy. Surely you are able to understand that right?
The bottom line is we don’t have nearly enough understanding of nuclear energy to make any definitive statements. Please prove me otherwise that we have comparable knowledge to handling nuclear waste and power as we do flying an airplane. Everyone and their opinion is heading to the dustbin at the rate we’re going.
PissedOffAmerican | May 20, 2012 at 23:05

The real irony of the kind of vicious self serving ad hominem that some dish out here is the misrepresentation of my argument through the use of strawmen.
At no time, on this website, or on Rod’s website, have I questioned the actual science of either the antis, or the pros. My entire argument has been one against the trustworthyness of the industry and the media in accurately describing the severity, or lack of severity, of this event. I can’t argue the science, nor do I attempt to do so. I do, however, state a tremendous distrust of the willingness of industry insiders to offer an unbiased representation of what has occurred at Fukushima, and the safety of the other outdated and aged reactors that are allegedly of the same make and vintage of those melted down at Fukushima.
Most of us (the “ignoramuses” that make up the majority of the lay population) believe that we have been told that an event such as occurred at Fukushima would never happen. ONE reactor, much less three, would never be forced to a state of meltdown by a predictable natural calamity. Those were the assurances, marketed by the industry and “experts” such as Rod and Will. And now that three reactors have melted down as the result of a predictable event, resulting in the displacement of a huge contingent of Japanese citizens, the assurances we recieve are ….
“Yeah, ok, it happened, but it ain’t no big thing”.
Or “Gee, we never figured we’d get a wave THAT big!”
Or “Go away, you’re just an ignorant dog”.
And the assumptions that fuel the animous that these people spit out are astounding. I mentioned, in passing, (on Rod”s website) that I live near a major windfarm, and that I was reasonably sure that the citizens of this burg (Tehachapi) would far rather share real estate with a windfarm than a nuclear power plant. So, one of the commenters at Rod’s website calls me “pro-wind”, when really, I expressed no opinion one way or the other about my personal feelings about wind power. I question the trustworthyness of the industry, and Rod calls me an “anti-nuclear activist”. Well, if my “activism” consists of going to Rod and Will’s websites, and expressing my distrust of the industry, than I guess he’s right. But really, I haven’t expressed an opinion, one way or the other, whether I am for or against SAFE nuclear energy production. Nor have I stated a doubt that nuclear energy can in fact be produced safely, or not. I merely question the wisdom of accepting the word of industry insiders that clearly have a vested interest in marketing the safety of nuclear power plants, considering that their assurances seem to be disproven by events such as that that occurred at Fukushima.
So yeah, all this ad hominem and spittle, dripping off the keyboards of those such as DV82XL, has the distinct odor of three day old horse bedding, straw saturated with a hefty dose of digested alfalfa.
DV82XL exposed himself candidly on Rod’s website. A woman posted a civil comment questioning the narrative of BOTH sides of the debate, and followed up by commenting that she was once a proponent of nuclear energy, but had acquired some reservations since Fukushima. How did DV82XL respond to her civil and non-confrontive questioning?? By calling her a liar, merely because she proffessed to have once been a proponent. Needless to say, she took her civility elsewhere.
If this kind of PR from the pro-nuclear advocates is the rule rather than the exception, than your industry is in deep sh*t indeed. Lumma “gets it”. You might wanna ponder the wisdom of adopting his approach, rather than the bile a few of you figure you gotta burp up everytime someone expresses a concern for the veracity of the “information” an outfit like TEPCO molds to its own best interests.
And BTW, Wayne, a perusal of the IAEA website pretty much establishes that the majority of the content of the IAEA status reports are based on information supplied by TEPCO. I will not hold my breath waiting for you to supply us with evidence that the IAEA has inspected the repairs to SPF #4, and issued a report. Even idiots like myself aren’t stupid enough to accept “because I said so” as a convincing argument.

duke | May 25, 2012 at 08:22

Sorry to jump in the middle of this thread so late but ive read it w/ much interest. I am an aspiring medical student and admit i know little of the nuclear industry or how the atom is harnassed. I will say that when this occurred and i began reading all the apocalyptic news my heart sank.
This site is a breath of fresh air in order to provide some real understanding of the issues. I am glad to learn the potential for some apocalyptic ending is not likely to occur. Unfortunately I came across this site second hand, it was not in the first few pages of any google search.
Regardless, i do have a few questions i was hoping someone more knowledgeable than me could answer.
1. Many of the threads here indicate the radiation in the evacuation zone is not dangerous. I know this article is sourced from Gunderson but i would appreciate if someone could shed light on the alleged soil test results they claim he completed.
2. The site also references the potential for a seismic event to crack the cooling pool and expose the rods to open air leading to an apocalyptic explosion. I see we have covered this in this article but is this scenario possible?
3. This is another article from the same site w/ references from other blog sites, japanese ambassador and again, gunderson. It alleges cover up, alleges 18,000 increased stillbirths post accident as well as a host of other allegations. If anyone could rebutt any or all of these allegations i would appreciate it.
4. I have seen a few references in the comments to radiation being safe and i was curious as to the belief behind these assertions. I know thats a long discussion but i would tend to disagree with radiation exposure being harmless regardless of how small the dose.
Again, im not trying to butt heads w/ anyone here or jump into the ongoing argument. i was just hoping someone with the knowledge of nuclear energy could help alleviate my concerns by answering my questions. I also admit i have not had the chance to read anything else on this site yet so i apologize if this is all addressed elsewhere.
Thanks for your time!

DV82XL | May 25, 2012 at 10:06

First if you are planning to go into medicine, I would suggest that you acquire a foundation in the basic sciences and in doing so learn to judge source material better than you do now. Natural News doesn’t reference the material that it publishes back to primary sources, and makes some rather astonishing claims in many areas without providing anything in the way of solid proof.
Generally speaking sites of this nature are of limited value when researching any topic and indeed if you look closely most of them claim somewhere in the fine print that they are primarily for entertainment not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind and cannot be held responsible for the contents of the articles they publish. This should be a red flag as to the reliability of the information you might find on such sites.
As for (ionizing) radiation and its impact on health at low doses, I would suggest that you again first learn enough of the fundamentals of radiation biophysics and statistics and then research the topic yourself. As it stands there is a plurality of opinion on the subject, much of which can only be understood if you have a basic grounding in these subjects.
Having said that consider that natural background radiation in some parts of the world are rather high yet there is no evidence that populations in these places have been adversely impacted health wise. This would seem to indicate that the dangers from long exposure to low level ionizing radiation are not as bad as some think.

[PB: Sites like NaturalNews, being activist-type, are not always perfect with scientific references and proof, but in this case DV82XL is wrong. The site links to Gundersen’s data source – lab test results. Umpteen thousand extra  infant deaths the USA in the first umpteen weeks after Fukushima are documented here.  From the commenters’ statement re health risks from low-level radiation, it’s obvious he is biased. Natural radioactive background is of a completely different nature than fall-outs from Chernobyl or Fukushima (that with time add to the ‘background’!). DV82XL is either an ignoramus or a nuclear lobby shill.]

duke | May 25, 2012 at 10:57

Thanks. Disregard the article. Got it. I know its not solid info. I actually receive emails from there in regard to folk style remedies as a basis for looking into concerns patients ask me about but since they had some wack-a-doo world ending articles, it freaked me out. So i went looking for people in the “know” w/ solid back grounds in the industry. Hence my reason for asking the question on this site.
With that said, is there any concern regarding this? If this was slightly understated initially should there be concern that other info is as well?
Again, im not trying to have a tone here, i just want to put my fears at ease and not worry about my kids and fukushima constantly lol. Where would you suggest i go to read about the specifics of the accident and how it will NOT cause a severe issue for the world?
This article was a great start but i think its just that, a start. Since this site has many individuals in the nuclear industry i figured someone could address the concerns i presented, even if just a few sentences so i could put it to rest. I didn’t really get an answer other than the info being put forth, however ludicrous should just be ignored. While that may be easy for you to do b/c of your background i don’t know “why that is” from your response so it still leaves me concerned.
I am aware of some of the discussions concerning background radiation etc. And again, i admit it is not a focus of mine. The condescending attitude about my knowledge of the human body wasn’t quite necessary but anyway, I wasn’t taking the position that it means death to all. It just seems that any increased radiation presents a problem to cell proliferation from its initial gene sequence. To infer its all safe b/c no ones died of a microwave in their house sounds a little optomistic considering you won’t find it if you don’t look for it.
Don’t get me wrong, im not looking for a long winded argument like pissed america so i won’t take that away from the two of you, this will actually be my last post. If the only assurance you can provide to all my queries above is don’t read other sites that aren’t referencing engineering textbooks and no one has died of background radiation yet so don’t worry about it being dispersed by nuclear facilities, i don’t really know who im supposed to ask? Id prefer not to have to worry about any of fukushimas issues at all. I was kinda hoping I would get a bit more of an explanation since i admitted i know little regarding nuclear energy. Talk to me like im your 5 year old asking you if i should be afraid b/c little johnny said the world was going to end b/c of fukushima exploding.
Its not that i don’t want to learn, its that i don’t have the time to become a nuclear engineer to discuss it with you. If i did, then i wouldn’t need your opinion. sorry.
Brian Mays | May 25, 2012 at 11:55

Duke – If you truly concerned about the aftermath of the Fukushima accident and are looking for reliable sources, you can’t do much better than to look at conclusions of United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the World Health Organization (WHO):
“Studies indicate minimal health risks from radiation in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster.”
This is not from a quack website like “Natural News”; this is from Nature, one of the most esteemed science journals in the world.
If you want to improve your knowledge of the health effects of ionizing radiation, then I suggest that you read the report from the National Academy of Sciences: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation (2006), which is also known as the “BEIR VII” report. It is now available online for free at
This is a rather dense report, with many references to the scientific literature, but even if you read only the Public Summary or the Executive Summary, you will have improved your knowledge and will be better prepared to critically evaluate the claims of such websites as or, who are only pimping misinformation.
If you have additional questions, please ask.

[PB: Is it the same WHO that has duped the world into the 2009 pandemic hoax with the swine flu? UNSCEAR and BEIR have been refuted scientifically, e.g. here.]

DV82XL | May 25, 2012 at 15:02

@duke – Without knowing what you do know about biophysics and statistics, it’s hard to give an answer on the radiation question that would not be indistinguishable from my personal opinion. The fact is that there is a plurality of opinion on the subject from a number of legitimate sources and at this point the very best advice that anyone can give is to say that you have to research the subject in some depth before drawing a conclusion.
The current state of affairs is that the data can be interpreted statistically to show that there is no effect from long term exposure to low level ionizing radiation, a small positive effect, or a small negative effect depending on the dataset and how it is analyzed. As such the absolute risks to human health are also open to interpretation.

[PB: …there is a plurality of opinion on the subject from a number of legitimate sources and at this point the very best advice that anyone can give is to say that you have to research the subject in some depth before drawing a conclusion — that’s more honest. So why does the commenter push his point of view in the whole discussion? Is over 60 mln cancer deaths since 1945 due to radiation, and 1 mln from Chernobyl just in Europe  in the first 20 yrs after the disaster — a small negative effect on human health?]

Mark Gubrud | June 3, 2012 at 10:39

The principal weakness of this article is that instead directly addressing the most worrisome scenario — that the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 is in danger of collapse or breach, exposing the spent fuel to air and allowing them to overheat and burn — the author tries readers’ patience with the irrelevant assertion that the fuel can’t burn “in its present condition.”
Quoting at length from a public release in broken English from that unimpeachable source TEPCO itself provides at best weak reassurance against concerns that the structure is damaged (why else did they reinforce it?) and that a further earthquake or other upset could lead to collapse or a leak which might drain the pool.
In the event of a substantial leak, as soon as the fuel is uncovered, radiation in the vicinity increases manyfold, so the ability to keep the fuel cool by a continuous spray of water is doubtful, to say nothing of what happens to all that draining, contaminated water.
In the event of collapse, you have the fuel in a heap, under and surrounded by rubble, and possibly no way to get water on it even if there is someone willing to hang around and operate the sprayers (assuming they still work).
The assertion that for the fuel to heat above 900C “is completely impossible in any situation” is dubious since this always depends not only on the power output per element but also on the size and configuration of the entire mass. If the pool collapses, and the spent fuel is sitting in a big heap with no coolant, does NUREG/CR-4982 tell us what the maximum temperature will be in the center of that heap?
I honestly don’t know how to assess the actual level of danger in this situation. But this article does not persuade me that TEPCO and nuclear advocates aren’t just keeping their fingers crossed and telling everybody else to stay calm.

By piotrbein