Saturday, 19 March 2011

Fukushima - sanity in the media?

After days of speculation, disaster predictions, another Chernobyl etc, the BBC finally reports something approaching sanity and with a hint of science...

Japan nuclear plant power 'close'

As it was almost bound to do at some point, Japan's nuclear safety agency has uprated its assessment of the Fukushima power station incident from a level four to a level five.

Firstly, 99.999% (or more) people have no idea what the nuclear power incident scale actually means, but at least the above report makes a hint at explaining it...though not well.

One of the "best"  reports comes from The Register:

Fukushima one week on: Situation 'stable', says IAEA
Shameful media panic very slowly begins to subside
By Lewis Page • Get more from this author
Posted in Physics, 18th March 2011 12:56 GMT

The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant in Japan, badly damaged during the extremely severe earthquake and tsunami there a week ago, continues to stabilise. It is becoming more probable by the day that public health consequences will be zero and radiation health effects among workers at the site will be so minor as to be hard to measure. Nuclear experts are beginning to condemn the international hysteria which has followed the incident in increasingly blunt terms.

Anyway, anything to do with anything "nuclear" makes great, sensationalist reading and sells news papers or generates hits on news websites...and unfortunately that's where most people get their information and exposure to science.

Here're links to Wikipedia about Radiation, Iodine-131, Caesium-137, Uranium, Plutonium and Nuclear Power. There's an interesting graph onthe Iodine-131 page about radiation exposure in the USA after the Nevada Tests in the 50's and 60s - which dwarf anything Fukushima, Windscale, 3 Mile Island or even Chernobyl output.

There's a good, un-biased (at the moment) write-up of the accident also on Wikipedia.

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