Fukishima Cold Shutdown

After the Japanese Tsunami (25,000 dead) the world has focussed its post Tsunami reporting on a series of meltdowns at the Fukishima nuclear plant.

There are those who have eagerly claimed that Fukishima would result in hundreds of thousands of radiation based deaths. The highest prediction Billothewisp has so far come across is 1.4 million.

But no one has actually died of a radiation induced illness at Fukishima. Nor are there likely to be any fatalities, especially as Fukishima reached cold shutdown a couple of weeks ago.
( See This IAEA pdf )

But was Fukishima just a lucky break for the nuclear industry?

Just like at Windscale 1957? At Windscale a Plutonium fire burned for days spewing radioactive waste over the nearby village. The subsequent enquiry declared that thirty three people were "statistically" killed though nobody actually knows who they were.

Another lucky break for the nuclear industry?.

Or like the 1979 Three Mile Island partial meltdown. Lots of panic. Lots of lurid predictions but no deaths.

Was this just another lucky break for the nuclear industry?

Even the ultimate catastrophe at Chernobyl. You know - explosion, no containment vessel, burned for days, dumped its plutonium into a nearby forest, nobody doing anything effective for a considerable period, clouds of radiation over Europe,  no issue of Iodine tablets until weeks later.

The wild predictions of millions of deaths from Chernobyl remain just that - wild predictions. Truly it was socially dislocating industrial distaster. But hardly a catastrophe. Look at the Japanese Tsunami for a real catastrophe.

So was even Chernobyl just another lucky break for the nuclear industry?

Are you like me starting the get the feeling that there is something very wrong here.

Either the lurid predictions of millions of deaths are true and these deaths are being hidden from us by some fantastic dark international conspiracy, or there is something very seriously wrong with the way some people are assessing radiation risk.

After reading a book by Prof. Wade Allison of Oxford University, I am very strongly of the opinion that the latter is the case.

The book is called Radiation and Reason. ( Amazon Link Here )

There is also a website unsurprisingly called http://www.radiationandreason.com/

Here is a Link  to Prof Allison's bio on that site. Here is his Bio on Wikipedia.

The guy is a Fellow of Keble College and a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. Don't be put off. The book is highly readable.

I think many will find Allisons book an eye opener.


Anonymous said...

Allison is only talking about low level radiation rather than the high level radiation released by the reactor explosion at Chernobyl.
But take a look at the German government-sponsored KiKK study which found that children five years or younger living five kilometres or less from nuclear plant exhaust stacks had twice the risk for contracting leukaemia as those residing more than five kilometres away.

As for casualties from Fukushima I'll point you in the direction of a new study in the Peer reviewed International Journal of Health Services which alleges that 14,000 Americans have already died from fallout from Fulushima. The rise in reported deaths was largest among U.S. infants under one. This is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown.

You could say that there may have been a number of other factors influencing this and you would be right, that is the problem with radiation caused deaths, it is so difficut to pin down that it's easy for authorities to dismiss.

I grew up near Winfrith power station and now we have leukaemia case in our family, say what you like, you're not going to convince me it's safe.

BilloTheWisp said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'll come back to Wade Allison in another post. But your other comments require a more immediate response.

There are some issues with the KiKK study, mainly related around the necessarily low sample size but it is without doubt, a respectable piece of scientific investigation.

As you probably know it led to a second KiKK study followed by a final assessment in 2008 ( http://www.ssk.de/en/werke/2008/volltext/ssk0806e.pdf ).

There are two main issues with this statistical increase.

Firstly there is the occurrence of leukaemia amongst children 0 - 5 yrs Leukaemia is extremely rare. This was was one of the challenges the KiKK study faced. The final report indicates that in Germany childhood leukaemia (0 - 5) occurs in 13 children per 100,000 of the 0 -5 age group.
The report also indicates that in children, leukaemia among young children is an acute disease rather than chronic.
But nevertheless the statistical increase is there if only for this one age group.

So does the increase of one case per year predicted by the study come down to radiation?

Both of the KiKK reports discount this. The final evaluation expounds on the implausibility of radiation being the cause.
Not the unlikelihood - the implausibility. To be fair to the authors of the KiKK report they never claim causation.

So what causes it?

Interestingly the final assessment indicates that similar increased incidences have been found around oil, manufacturing and processing
plants. Intriguingly the increased incidence was also found around proposed yet unbuilt nuclear sites. So would this level of infection rule out (say) the new Honda car plant which will provide thousands of new jobs?

Probably not, and if not why single out nuclear which provides vital carbon free power?

At least with nuclear, we could if necessary take the precautionary principle - ensure that people do not have to live within 5KM of a nuclear plant. The number of nuclear plants required is so low (15 - 25) I would go along with that. (personally I have lived and would be happy to live much closer). I will blog on this more.

The KiKK study is legitimate science. Regrettably the next "peer reviewed" item you mention is an insult to the scientific process.

I don't even like mentioning in the same comment as the KiKK study. I will blog on more as well, the figures and the way they have been derived is so absurd it is easy meat for even bog standard engineers like me to shoot down.

Read this piece by a world renowned Scientific American journalist -

I hope that while you may currently be anti nuclear, your stance is one of scepticism rather than denial. Scepticism is healthy and allows you (or me) to change position when the facts are clarified. Denial is a different issue. Denial sees the facts go to the wall. So I was a little concerned by your last statement.
But I do hope you are not immune to rational argument.