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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:11 AM
Original message
How did Japan's nuclear industry become so arrogant?
How did Japan's nuclear industry become so arrogant?
(Mainichi Japan) April 25, 2011

<snip>

The excuses made by the organizations involved go to show that so-called nuclear power experts have no intention to self reflect or admit their shortcomings. It was this self-righteousness -- evidenced over the years in the industry's suppression of unfavorable warnings and criticisms, as well as in their imposition of the claim that the safety of nuclear energy was self evident -- that lay down the groundwork for the accident in Fukushima.

At press conferences, TEPCO officials repeatedly express their "deep apologies" for the trouble caused to the Japanese people. However, as soon as reporters' questions turn to the actual safety of nuclear power stations -- about which they had long boasted a multilayered safety system referred to as "defense in depth" -- they begin to act coolly. Their speech may feign civility, but they never admit to any wrongdoing and merely keep insisting the righteousness of their own claims. When particularly unflattering questions are posed to them, some TEPCO executives glower at the reporters who dared to ask and give only a brusque response.

<snip>

So how did the industry become what it is now?

Tetsunari Iida, a former nuclear engineer who currently heads the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, says that the industry is dominated by a closely-knit nuclear establishment. Those who graduate from universities and graduate from schools with degrees in nuclear power engineering go on to work at power companies, energy-related manufacturers, or municipalities that host nuclear power stations. Everything comes down to personal networks, and who the graduating students go on to work for is largely influenced by the connections and interests of the students' professors. Regardless of whether the employers are public or private organizations, the newly inducted engineers are raised to become full-fledged members of the nuclear establishment.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20110425p2a00m...


Meanwhile


TEPCO and the Japanese government say 154 trillion becquerels per day of radioactive material is being released into the atmosphere - over 154 times more than previously stated.



Atmospheric radiation leak underestimated
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Apr. 25, 2011

Data released by the government indicates radioactive material was leaking into the atmosphere from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in early April in greater quantities than previously estimated.

Radioactive material was being released into the atmosphere from the plant at an estimated rate of 154 terabecquerels per day as of April 5, according to data released by the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission on Saturday.

The NSC previously estimated radiation leakage on April 5 at "less than 1 terabecquerel per hour."

Iodine-131 and cesium-137 were released into the atmosphere that day at the estimated rates of 0.69 terabecquerel per hour and 0.14 terabecquerel per hour, respectively, the NSC said.

Emissions are converted into iodine-131 equivalents for assessment on the international nuclear event scale (INES), to arrive at the total 154 terabecquerels per day, the nuclear safety watchdog said.

One terabecquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels.
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20110424dy04.htm
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:37 AM
Response to Original message
1. We are truly and completely....
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 09:51 AM by CoffeeCat
...on our own.

I guess because you can't see radiation--the way you can see oil--the problem doesn't exist. How fortunate
for the nuclear-energy billionaires who are attempting to protect future earnings.

In the meantime--I get to try to figure out what the frick a terabecquereis is and then I get to calcuate
how much Cesium-137 I'll ingest and how long it will remain in my body--based on the blah blah blah of the
blah blah blah.

I have a degree in science writing, and I still don't get it. We don't have the information. We are purposely
being kept in the dark.

A French group comrpised of experts on radioactivity--warned the French and Europeans about the radioactive isotopes
in milk and leafy green vegetables. The group specifically warned people against drinking milk! The article
announcing these warnings also included information about radioactive isotopes in the United States that were "seven to eight times
higher than in Europe". But no warnings in the United States, for us. Drink up, people!

This article spelled out specifics. It delineated how much radioactive iodine was dangerous. Then, the article
revealed how much of this radioactive iodine was in milk and the article went on to explain the amount of milk
that would put you in the danger zone--and it wasn't much. THAT was good, clear information.

I guess Americans don't deserve good, clear information. Here's the link to the French article:
http://www.naturalnews.com/032050_radioactive_food_nucl...
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 04:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. you're right CoffeeCat. I can't find a single non-Japanese media source reporting this.
A few Japanese newspapers reported it, but most haven't so far. Nothing yet from AP, Reuters, BBC, NY Times, etc, even after almost 3 days.

This is a mind-boggling error correction. Radiation over 154 times what was previously stated.

Between 370,000 and 630,000 million becquerels released so far

Another 10,000 trillion becquerels to be released in the next 3 months.

Data released by the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission almost 3 days ago.

Not worth reporting?
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TheWraith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 01:34 AM
Response to Reply #1
13. There's no warnings in the US, because the "warnings" are a joke.
Warning people against eating vegetables or drinking milk in the US due to radiation from Japan, you're talking about doses so small that they should be warning you to not leave your house in the morning, because you'll be exposed to solar radiation.
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 04:37 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Where do you find that information?
I live in Hong Kong and the Observatory here gives us daily radiation readings from 10 different locations in the city, iodine readings at three locations and caesium readings at two locations.

I assume if we had such info in Hong Kong all major US cities must have something similar, but I haven't been able to find it.
http://www.weather.gov.hk/radiation/ermp/rmn/applet/map...

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Citizen Worker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. When this disaster first began to unfold, and before the nuclear power lobby and their PR firms
emerged to spin this to their advantage, we should all bend over, grab our ankles and kiss our asses goodbye. I certainly did not want to be right but as each piece of news discloses it may be so.
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. This is shameful reporting by both world governments and the media.
The main headlines are that TEPCo execs have had their pay cut. Virtually nothing about radiation levels being over 150 times what was previously reported.
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Spinny Liberal Donating Member (120 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:44 PM
Response to Original message
5. Time to bury
it in concrete. Way past time, actually.
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Not yet
The plant itself is history - the Fukushima 50 are not trying to save the reactors, they're trying to mitigate the disaster. That requires getting things under control in ways that simply dumping concrete on it won't. You can't talk about burying it until the cores cool enough that they aren't going to threaten to completely blow apart the reactor vessels.
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Spinny Liberal Donating Member (120 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Ah OK
I didn't know that's how it works. Those poor people who are in there trying to help the situation are on a suicide mission. :-(
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:45 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Jimmy Carter did something similar at Chalk River
But for him it was in and out. It's hard to say how long this will take - months at the very least. I don't think it's literally a suicide mission, but it certainly carries with it mortal risk.

One criminal aspect of their situation is the lack of proper equipment - dosimeters, protective clothing (they shouldn't have to resort to duct tape and plastic bags). It sounds like many workers won't even have a solid record of their exposure. They deserve much better for their bravery and sacrifices.
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Spinny Liberal Donating Member (120 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:39 AM
Response to Reply #10
12. Much better
With that much radiation exposure, I don't think I could see it any less than a suicide mission - especially with the lack of equipment. Their sense of responsibility is very commendable.
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
6. The adjustement is explained in the Yomiuri Shimbun excerpt
Iodine-131 and cesium-137 were released into the atmosphere that day at the estimated rates of 0.69 terabecquerel per hour and 0.14 terabecquerel per hour, respectively, the NSC said.

Emissions are converted into iodine-131 equivalents for assessment on the international nuclear event scale (INES), to arrive at the total 154 terabecquerels per day, the nuclear safety watchdog said.


What does this mean?

The original claim of "less than 1 TBq per hour" was absolutely correct.

But not all radioactive isotopes are created equal. In 80 days 1 TBq of I-131 becomes 1 GBq of I-131 - in 10 half-lives the radioactivity is 1/1000 of what you started with (technically, 1/1024). But in that same time, 1 TBq of Cs-137 is still about 1 TBq of Cs-137, because its half life is around 30 years.

For use with the INES scale, the standard practice is evidently to scale releases to some exposure equivalent to a given release of I-131. This means that you have to multiply the actual Cs-137 by a big number to reflect that fact that 1 TBq of Cs-137 stays radioactive much longer than 1 TBq of I-131 (and thus represents many more decays). There is also probably further mathematical weighting to reflect different biological half-lives, accumulation patterns in the body, and energy deposited per decay.

So it's not the case that the previous values were off by a factor of 154. They've simply re-standardized the emissions into new units that are not TBq/day but I-131-equivalent TBq/day. (It's just like converting tons of CH4 into tons of CO2 equivalent in a greenhouse gas calculation - you still have a ton of CH4, but its effect is equivalent to that of a greater amount of CO2.) Evidently the weighting factor is something like 154/0.14 or around 1000 - that is, the long-term exposure risk posed by 1 TBq of Cs-137 is estimated to be around 1000 times greater than that posed by 1 TBq of I-131.
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 07:48 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Thanks for explaining that. Were they off by a factor of six then?
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I'm not sure...
I just noticed I didn't pay attention to the fact that there were releases per hour and releases per day at different points in the article.
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