Archive for chernobyl

How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation


I may have mentioned in an earlier post that when news was continuing to break about the Japanese nuclear disaster, I was regularly tweeting about it, quoting news alerts and other various news reports. Several of those reports used the words "out of control", and so that's exactly what I repeated in my posts and/or tweets. I was called out by a few people who said condescending things like, "Why are you panicking? How sad." I wasn't, I was passing on what I heard.

Several people tried their best to convince me how far nuclear power has come, and even compared it to coal and oil in an effort to prove its effectiveness, reliability and safety.

My response was that they were all pretty bad, and the severity of the pollution from coal and oil does nothing to lessen that of a nuclear accident or the problems associated with storing nuclear waste.

When I referred to comparisons to Chernobyl, I was ridiculed. At times all of this was amusing, at other times infuriating.

At one point, I was followed on Twitter by the Nuclear Energy Institute, receiving tweet after tweet challenging my views, trying to convince me to change my mind. It didn't work.

I continue to post about the resulting radiation and about lax safety measures at the power plants, including the two here in California; I live in the L.A. area, between them.

I wish I had seen this article from the Guardian before now, but it wasn't published until April 11:

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow's meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term "acceptable levels of external radiation" in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation's hazards. [...]

[A]s the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual's risk of developing cancer. [...]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment", published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion.... 980,000.

There is a whole lot more here. Please read it all.

By the way, I'm still not panicked, just very concerned.

And I haven't heard a peep out of all those critics since it has been confirmed how "out of control" the situation got... not an apology, not a retraction, not an acknowledgment, not a hint of a whisper of a word. Then again, I didn't expect one.

More TPC posts on this topic here.


Japan Reportedly to Raise Nuclear Alert to Highest Level, Equal to Chernobyl


UPDATE, via @Plutoniumpage: This is a handy guide to what this all means. But as our pal VNDNBRG notes, "Chernobyl had only 1 reactor- Fukushima has 4 with problems-scale is worthless in this situation."

Original post:

Rachel Maddow just reported that Japan's official announcement about this is expected to come tomorrow morning.

Via Fox (and an AP email alert):

TOKYO -- News reports say Japan has decided to raise the severity level of the crisis at its tsunami-stricken nuclear power plant to 7 -- the highest level and equal to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.

Nuclear energy! It's safe! It's clean! It's modern! Tell your friends!

Paddy added this in a separate post, which I'm combining with this one. We managed to simultaneously post the same thing:

Quoting sources at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK both said Tuesday (Monday in Hawaii) that NISA would raise the severity level of the nuclear radiation disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to 7 from the current 5.


"What we've got here is failure to communicate"


I wake up every day to a kajillion emails, links sent to me by readers, news alerts, comments, you name it.

I'd like to share with you, verbatim, what I woke up to today.

Via email alerts:

TOKYO (AP) Japan officials say radioactive water in 1 reactor unit is 10 million times higher than normal.
TOKYO (AP) Operators of troubled Japan nuclear plant say huge spike in radiation levels was a mistake.

And via one of my favorite regular sources for great linkage and commentary, Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response:

As late as 2005 "the powers that be" were still downplaying the Chernobyl nuke catastrophe:

25 years later the Chernobyl truth is finally coming out:

I wonder what we'll learn about the Japan catastrophe in 25 years?

Happy Sunday.


VIDEOS: Big Oil's Chernobyl


Forget Katrina.  This is more like Big Oil's Chernobyl.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From time to time, we here at TPC like to post different points of view, ones that we may or may not agree with. This is one of those times. Consider it food for thought, or a springboard for discussion.

Take a look at these headlines that my Twitter pal AltaKocker sent me, and then please follow the links and read the stories. I'll include some of the commentary he added.
Another Gulf oil spill: Well near Deepwater Horizon has leaked since at least April 30:

The Deepwater Horizon is not the only well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the last month.

A nearby drilling rig, the Ocean Saratoga, has been leaking since at least April 30, according to a federal document.

While the leak is decidedly smaller than the Deepwater Horizon spill, a 10-mile-long slick emanating from the Ocean Saratoga is visible from space in multiple images gathered by, which monitors environmental problems using satellites.

Rate of Oil Leak, Still Not Clear, Puts Doubt on BP:

At least one expert, Ira Leifer, who is part of a government team charged with estimating the flow rate, is convinced that the operation has made the leak worse, perhaps far worse than the 20 percent increase that government officials warned might occur when the riser was cut.

Dr. Leifer said in an interview on Monday that judging from the video, cutting the pipe might have led to a several-fold increase in the flow rate from the well.


Dr. Leifer is correct, the "remedy" has increased the amount of oil being released by orders of magnitude. That's why they can recover so much oil.

They were hoping to use the PR of recovering oil as a shield [...] but instead BP and the government has created a bigger mess. And BP will say that they don't have to pay because they only did what the government told them. This major pollution increase falls squarely on the back of BP and POTUS! So when POTUS asks "whose ass to kick," the answer is, perhaps, his own.

Oil spill seafood testers sniff out tainted fish, shrimp, oysters at Pascagoula lab:

"Not fail safe", indeed:

The trained sniffers will be deployed where needed, when suspicions are raised about seafood being illegally culled from closed waters, or even to test fish from open waters. No agency has yet reported finding or stopping any tainted seafood from getting to market.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also been sampling seafood both in closed and open waters, and sending it off for chemical testing, with more than 600 fish and shrimp processed to date.

State and local inspectors are fanning out across the region to docks, seafood processors and restaurants, some now armed with specially trained noses. [...]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has a role with its own inspectors, though the agency said it only has "several seafood specialists" currently in the Gulf area.


A friend of mine, who owns a restaurant, will NOT purchase seafood that might be from the Gulf, because there is NO reliable Government seafood inspection program to assure safety.

And via another Twitter pal, Emptywheel, BP Well Bore And Casing Integrity May Be Blown, Says Florida’s Sen. Nelson:

Oil and gas are leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC. Nelson, one of the most informed and diligent Congressmen on the BP gulf oil spill issue, has received reports of leaks in the well, located in the Mississippi Canyon sector. This is potentially huge and devastating news. [...]

[C]ontrary to the happy talk propounded by BP, the Obama Administration and the press, the likely success of the “relief well” effort on the first try in August is nowhere near a certainty; and certainly nowhere near the certainty it is being painted as.

Marcy Wheeler (Emptywheel) had a lot to say. Please go read her comments. She ended with this:

[I]f Senator Nelson is correct about the breach of fundamental well integrity, the game is close to over for the Gulf of Mexico. We shall see where this goes from Nelson’s initial comment. But make no mistake, Nelson is a careful guy not prone to overt hyperbole, and he clearly understood the ramifications of what he was saying.

It also means, of course, that BP and the Obama Administrations continue to give the American public short shrift in the truth and honesty departments. How surprising.


If Sen. Nelson is correct, this BP mess could get a lot uglier for years to come.

This e-mail news alert just came in:

WASHINGTON (AP) Obama spending Monday, Tuesday inspecting Gulf oil damage in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The good news, from what I heard from Jean Michel Cousteau ( on the Thom Hartmann show today: Clean energy will get a kick start. He sees a rosier future ahead.

I'll focus on that.

As Natalie Wood said in Miracle on 34th Street, "I believe... I believe... Even though it's silly, I believe."