Discussion: Is Japan in danger of a nuclear disaster or not? What source to trust?

Hi Blog.  I have to admit being thoroughly confused about what’s going on at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant.  Are we in danger of a nuclear meltdown or aren’t we?

I’m hearing from NHK and the connected authorities that there is no cause for concern and everything is under control (as roofs get blown off plant buildings).

I’m also hearing from overseas sources that there is little cause for alarm.  For example, here.

Yet I’m hearing from sources on the ground without an interest in the nuclear power industry making statements like these:

(Source is anonymized, but is a trustworthy on about matters dealing with U.S. military:)

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March 14, 2011:  You are absolutely right to have zero trust in Government of Japan (GOJ) or Japanese-controlled press on this.  The Japanese authorities simply won’t confirm the meltdown that is occurring.  Here are some of the facts from the western press:

1.  The USS Ronald Reagan, located 100 miles Northeast, had to relocate due to a radioactive plume cloud heading their way.
2.  17 members of the Reagan’s helicopter crews doing rescue missions have tested positive for radioactivity.  All helos are being decontaminated as they return to the Reagan.
3.  The Navy has tested positively for airborne radioactivity up to 100 miles away from the plant.
4.  The Japanese are pumping saltwater in to cool the rods.  This is only done as a last-ditch effort, since salt corrodes the reactors.  After that, they are out of options.
5.  Cesium has been detected by the Navy in the air.  The presence of this element in the air is an indication that the rods have actually started melting.
6.  The plant at Onagawa is also experiencing abnormally high radiation levels.  This plant is much closer to Tokyo.

Now, let’s remember how the GOJ is treating the casualty numbers.  They are reporting 1600 casualties right now.  That’s because they do not even consider a person “dead” until they are identified, so even though they have thousands of bodies piled up, they won’t report them yet as “dead”.  That is the way the GOJ operates.   They are simply not forthcoming with information.  The US Govt. was extremely frustrated at this way of operating during the Kobe earthquake.  The US Government could not get adequate situational awareness because the GOJ was simply not forthcoming.  This is no different.

Right now, the GOJ “officials have yet to confirm a meltdown because IT IS TOO HOT INSIDE THE TO CHECK.” (cnn.com) So, do they expect the reactor to cool down so they can check and confirm that the rods are actually melting?  Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman for Japan’s prime minister, said Sunday the situation was “under control.” (cnn.com).   Under control? You can’t confirm if the rods are melting because it’s too hot to check, but everything is under control?

Stephanie Cooke, editor of Nuclear Intelligence Weekly for the atomic-energy community, said best summarized the GOJ on this issue by saying “The more they say they’re in control, the more I sense things may be out of control. (cnn.com)”

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So which is it?  Again, Debito.org is disinclined to trust official sources given their record regarding safety and forthcomingness (witness 1999’s nuclear accident at Tokai-mura and the consequent media debacle).  But I wish I knew what to believe.  Suggestions and links from Debito.org Readers welcome.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE MARCH 16: The thing that I don’t get about recent developments is that Japanese society tends to overcompensate in regards to safety issues.  Why don’t we see that happening whenever there’s a case of nuclear energy?  “Just stay indoors for the duration” is not what I would call adequate safety advice.

70 comments on “Discussion: Is Japan in danger of a nuclear disaster or not? What source to trust?

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  • Similar Mainichi editorial:

    Gov’t must provide accurate information on nuclear disaster risks
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20110317p2a00m0na004000c.html

    Japan’s nuclear power plant disaster is widening. The water level in a pool for spent nuclear fuel at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 plant has dropped, creating the possibility of a meltdown.

    The container of the No. 3 reactor at the plant has possibly been damaged and the fuel in the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors is no longer fully covered with cooling water. If no countermeasures are adopted the fuel will melt, which could result in a large radiation leak. Workers handling the disaster must unite their efforts to secure a water supply as quickly as possible and cool the fuel.

    Equally important as bringing the nuclear power disaster under control is a proper response to the threat of radiation.

    It goes without saying that people’s health must be protected. At the same time we must ensure the well-being of people put at risk and ease people’s anxiety.

    It is only natural that people living within a 20 kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant have been evacuated. People living between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant have been ordered to stay indoors, but is this an appropriate response? Even though the risk may be low in this area at present, the government should consider ordering evacuations in the outer ring as well to ease people’s anxiety and ensure that they can get back to life as normal. We also call on local government bodies around the nation to consider accepting people from these areas.

    Even in areas located far away from the plant, people have started evacuating. With only limited information available, it is only natural that they feel uneasy. But if people in areas that face an extremely low risk start evacuating, confusion will arise, and this could hinder efforts to aid the people who really need help. What is important is for people to have a “healthy” measure of fear.

    At the Fukushima nuclear power plant, fission reactions were brought to a halt immediately after the earthquake struck, so the situation is fundamentally different from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. But could the situation worsen to a level on par with Chernobyl, and if so what kind of risk would people across Japan face? Many people want answers.

    When calling for a calm response, authorities must assess not only the current risk, but also the risks in a worst-case scenario, and provide people with accurate information, including the probability of such a scenario.

    The government is unequivocally responsible for establishing guidelines. We want the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission and other related bodies to actively carry out their responsibilities. At the same time it is also probably necessary for academic committees and other expert organizations to analyze the risks, support the government and provide information to residents.

    We have pointed out in the past that establishing a reliable and consistent source of information is an important part of crisis management. But the government must not go too far in controlling information. To cover the mouths of people in specialist fields will only harm the nation’s interests. We call for combined wisdom that will enable Japan to overcome this crisis.

    (Mainichi Japan) March 17, 2011
    ==========================

    Original Japanese story

    社説:東日本大震災 的確なリスク情報を
    http://mainichi.jp/select/opinion/editorial/news/20110317k0000m070154000c.html

     原発災害が拡大している。東京電力福島第1原発では、使用済み核燃料の貯蔵用プールの水が減り、燃料の溶融が起きかねない状況が生じている。

     3号機の原子炉格納容器が損傷した可能性もある。1~3号機で原子炉内の核燃料の露出も続いている。

     このままだと1~4号機で核燃料が溶け、大量の放射線が外部に漏れる恐れがある。すべての関係者が力をあわせ、一刻も早く水を供給し、冷却につなげたい。

     原発そのものの制御と並んで欠かせないのは、住民の放射線影響への的確な対処だ。

     健康被害を防ぐのはもちろん、リスクにさらされている人たちの生活を支え、不安を除く必要がある。

     原発から20キロ圏内の避難は当然だが、20~30キロの屋内退避を続けるのか。この地域でのリスクが今は低くても、日常生活の維持や不安解消などを考えると、国の指示による避難も検討してはどうか。全国の自治体は受け入れも考えてほしい。

     福島から遠く離れた場所でも、避難する人たちがでてきている。情報が限られる中で、不安に思うのは当然だろう。

     だが、リスクが非常に低い地域の人たちまで避難しようとすれば、混乱が起き、実際に支援が必要な人たちの妨げになりかねない。

     大事なのは、「正当に怖がる」ことだ。

     そもそも、福島原発では核分裂反応自体は地震直後に停止している。86年に旧ソ連で起きたチェルノブイリ原発事故とは根本的に異なる。

     しかし、事態の悪化によってチェルノブイリに迫る可能性がどれほどあるのか。その場合に、日本各地でのリスクはどれほどか。気にかける人は多い。

     冷静な対応を促すには、現在のリスクはもちろん、最悪の事態に陥った場合のリスク評価を、その確率とともに的確に示すことが必要だ。

     そうした指針を示すのは一義的には政府の任務である。内閣府の原子力安全委員会などに積極的に責務を果たしてもらいたい。

     一方で、学会など専門家集団がリスク分析をし、政府の支援をしたり、市民に説明したりすることも必要ではないか。

     ばらつきのない信頼性のある情報発信が、危機管理に重要であることは指摘してきたとおりだ。しかし、政府は行きすぎた情報統制をしてはならない。それぞれの専門分野の人々の口を封じることがあっては、国の損失だ。

     危機を乗り切るために、できる限りの英知を結集したい。

    毎日新聞 2011年3月17日 2時31分
    ENDS

  • I laughed when i heard that TEPCO were raising the radiation safety level to twice the currently accepted level; so that their workers could work longer hours.

    What a farce and a complete joke….

    — Need a source.

  • Steve King says:

    I can’t believe you have left this unsubstantiated, anonymously-sourced paranoid nonsense on your blog for days now, Debito:

    1. The USS Ronald Reagan, located 100 miles Northeast, had to relocate due to a radioactive plume cloud heading their way.

    ‘Radioctive Plume Cloud’? This is unsubstantiated anywhere else.

    2. 17 members of the Reagan’s helicopter crews doing rescue missions have tested positive for radioactivity. All helos are being decontaminated as they return to the Reagan.

    The level of radioactivity tested is not stated and is therefore meaningless. There’s radioactivity practically everywhere, at some level. Does your source state that the level tested for is dangerous to the human health?

    3. The Navy has tested positively for airborne radioactivity up to 100 miles away from the plant.

    Again, without the actual measurements, this is meaningless

    4. The Japanese are pumping saltwater in to cool the rods. This is only done as a last-ditch effort, since salt corrodes the reactors. After that, they are out of options.

    What experience does your source have of the procedures necessary to cool a nuclear reactor?

    5. Cesium has been detected by the Navy in the air. The presence of this element in the air is an indication that the rods have actually started melting.

    Again, this is unsubstantiated. Any actual measurements to go on, with a credible source attached to their significance?

    6. The plant at Onagawa is also experiencing abnormally high radiation levels. This plant is much closer to Tokyo.

    Utterly absurd, as has already been pointed out. A simple look at a map comprehensively discredits this assertion

    Debito, I’m frankly shocked that you’ve let this stay on your blog. It’s an error of judgement on your part and it saddens me. The longer you leave this nonsense up for worried and and concerned people to see, the more your credibility becomes damaged.

    You are an individual who in my opinion has a great deal of credibility and gravitas amongst the wider community of non-Japanese and naturalized Japanese in this country. Please do this credibility and gravitas good service by removing these unsubstantiated and irresponsible rumours from your blog and replacing them with the kind of balanced analysis you are more renowned for.

  • I’d like to echo Steve in #55 above. Really, this is nothing more than the sort of irresponsible scaremongering that Debito would be ranting about if it was some abuse of crime statistics targetting the NJ community, for example. It’s a time for a bit of rational thought not hype and rumour-mongering. Like the UK Govt’s Chief Scientific Advisor insisting there was absolutely no risk to Tokyo, for example.

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2011/03/comments-from-sir-john-beddington-and.html

  • I have to agree largely with what Steve King has said Debito – though I think the article should be left up with Steve’s piece-by-piece demolition of it interleaved with the text – in bold.

  • WOW, Are you guys seriously blaming Debito for asking which news source to trust?
    I understand that everyone is on edge, this a serious situation. Most of us have loved ones who we are worried about, or have lives in Japan. While you sit and worry, and have time on your hands to respond to this blog consider this:

    The blaming has got to stop!!! Its Debito’s blog, he presents us with an issue – He did not create the issues, he merely encourages us to debate them, give each other ideas and often WE yes WE come up with solutions to the problems. QUIT blaming him for simply bring the debate to light.

    I certainly hope that everyone is safe and well. Good luck to you whether you beleive the news from JP or elsewhere. I hope they are all wrong!
    BUT please stop the blaming those who wish to question the system!!!

  • agreed. If you want to find the straight scoop, come here. If you want drama and nonsense, go to tepido. The drone flyover pictures show a disaster, youd have to be insane to deny that causes concern.

  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367684/Nuclear-plant-chief-weeps-Japanese-finally-admit-radiation-leak-kill-people.html

    Japanese TEPCO finally admits radiation now enough to kill. Here comes the bowing and the apologizing. Why does Japan have to be subjected to this every time? There shouldn’t be bowing or apologizing it should NEVER happen!

    Finally to prove Debito correct. Japan blocks out radiation readings closest to the plant.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-03-17-japanradiate17_ST_N.htm

    — Thanks but remember, the goal here is not to “prove Debito correct”. I don’t want to be correct in this situation — I’m hoping I’m wrong, actually. But I do want more information from reliable sources to get out for people to make informed decisions about where they want to weather this crisis out.

  • Ref my post # 53, source:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12779510

    “..On Wednesday the government raised the legal limit of radiation they could be exposed to from 100 to 250 millisieverts…”

    So, again, lets make a picture of ‘all ok’..by raising the safety limit, ergo they are safe!!!

    “…That is more than 12 times the legal dose for workers dealing with radiation under British law.”

  • Debito isn’t quoting any news source, just some anonymous idiot on the internet, of which there are an infinite number.

    If you want a credible source, try the UK Chief Scientific Advisor, for one. I don’t see that he has any particular reason to downplay things and he’s certainly put his, and by extension the UK Govt’s, credibility firmly on the line with very clear statements. Dozens of independent scientists around the world have come up with the same sort of assessment. The worst plausible case is some serious contamination of the local area, which of course is a serious outcome, but hardly a health hazard to anyone further away.

    Don’t forget in all this, we have an ongoing calamity with hundreds of thousands displaced and tens of thousands dead. All this wailing about our supposed victimhood, either further afield in Japan or even more ludicrously around the rest of the world, is pretty poor taste.

  • The Anonymous Contributor to this Blog Entry says:

    Most of the reports on your original anonymous posting were widely available from CNN on the day you posted it. Don’t tell me the readers on here actually watch and believe the Japanese Government propaganda of NHK over CNN.

  • The danger to the Tokyo Metropolitan area and the rest of Japan is the long-term effects of the event. All of the talk about radiation from the press is about immediate exposure, but the real problem is if the contamination enters the water supply. A large majority of the health issues at Chernobyl were from contaminated milk and other food sources.

  • jjobseeker says:

    Another interesting read Debito:
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20110318p2a00m0na007000c.html
    The fact of the matter is, nuclear radiology is not part of our schooling other than on a theoretical or compulsory level. We’re never really taught what amounts of exposure are safe and unsafe. I never heard of a microsievert until a week ago–odd considering I grew up in the Cold War. So I agree with this editorial that on top of, or perhaps instead of, purely scientifically accurate information, what we really need is proper information that is more easily perceived by the general public.

    =====================

    Perspectives
    Public urged to avoid unnecessary panic amid nuke plant crisis
    (Mainichi Japan) March 18, 2011

    This Thursday, March 17, 2011 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)
    Having served in the past as head of the Mainichi Shimbun’s Fukushima Bureau as well as the managing editor of the Science & Environment News Department at our paper’s Tokyo headquarters, I was asked to participate in a telephone interview with Radio Fukushima on March 16.

    On the radio, I declared that the radiation levels to which residents in Fukushima were exposed had no effect on their health whatsoever. “Please feel at ease,” I reassured them. We received e-mails and faxes saying that listeners felt reassured by the interview, the recording of which Radio Fukushima subsequently aired over and over again.

    The experience once again drove home how fearful people are about the effects of radiation. I’ve even heard of people leaving Tokyo for “safer” locations. While it goes without saying that we are confronting a grave situation unprecedented in the history of the development of nuclear energy, what we need more than anything is to follow the developments with level-headedness.

    Public fears began to mount the morning of March 15, when Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that radiation levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been detected in what is believed to be the vicinity of the No. 3 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power station and added, “This level of radiation can possibly have an effect on people’s health.”

    Indeed, if someone were to be exposed to this level of radiation continuously for an hour, there is a possibility that they will develop symptoms such as a temporary drop in white blood cells.

    The figure — 400 millisieverts — however, is believed to have been a particular measurement taken close to the rubble of the damaged No. 3 reactor. We later learned that radiation levels differed even in the same power plant grounds, with levels by the No. 1 power station’s main entrance reaching just 10 millisieverts. Yet, footage of Edano announcing the former figure and saying that such levels could be damaging to people’s health were repeatedly played on television.

    Panic rose even further that evening when it emerged that radioactive material originating in the Fukushima plant had been detected in Tokyo.

    So does the current situation actually have any bearing on our health?

    Exposure to radiation can be divided into two kinds: external and internal. External entails the direct contact of radioactive rays with parts of one’s body that are exposed. Internal refers to radiation exposure that occurs when air or food tainted with radioactive material enters the body. For the time being, external exposure is of most relevance to us.

    There are two possible ways that people can be exposed to radioactive material externally. The first is through direct exposure to radioactive rays from the nuclear power plant. The second possibility is radioactive materials spreading close and far away from the power station while it continues to emit radioactive rays.

    The rule is that radiation doses are inversely proportional to the distance from the source squared. Therefore, outside a 20-km radius from the plant — from which residents have been evacuated — any direct external exposure from the power station is negligible.

    That leaves us with flying radioactive material as the source of virtually all of the radiation being detected elsewhere. The highest radiation level that had been detected in Fukushima Prefecture by the evening of March 17 was 30 microsieverts (a microsievert is one-one thousandth of a millisievert) or lower, with most measurements at around 2 to 5 microsieverts. Compare that to a CT chest scan, a single one of which will expose the recipient to approximately 6,900 microsieverts. Even if a level of 30 microsieverts were to be maintained, one would have to stand outside for 230 continuous hours to be exposed to the same amount of radiation as a CT scan.

    Time and time again, the media has used the phrase, “Current radiation levels do not pose an immediate health risk.” While the expression is accurate from a scientific point of view, it seems to instill fear in some members of the public. One acquaintance of mine asked: “If they’re saying that there’s no immediate health risk, doesn’t that imply that we might experience effects in the future?” In reality, however, exposure to radiation of 100 millisieverts or less is said not to raise the risk of developing cancer later in life.

    What we need now, more than scientifically accurate information, is sound, on-target information. To that, we can definitively say that current radiation levels are not going to have an adverse effect on our health.

    If the situation were to deteriorate, because of fuel rods being exposed above water or some other reason, thereby raising the amount of radioactive material being emitted, we would be exposed to higher levels of radiation. It will not be too late, however, to decide at that point whether or not to evacuate.

    Another common concern is that the current nuclear crisis will end up being a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The accident at Chernobyl took place when control over atomic fission in a running reactor was lost, triggering a surge in power output that caused huge explosions and fires, releasing massive amounts of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. Fallout from the accident was found around the world.

    On the other hand, the No. 1-3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant automatically stopped running immediately following the earthquake on March 11, and control rods were inserted in place. At the time, the No. 4 reactor was in the midst of an inspection, and no nuclear fission reaction is currently taking place in any of the reactors. The generally held view among experts is that the circumstances of the nuclear power station crisis in Fukushima are completely different from those at Chernobyl.

    The worst-case scenario would be if the pressure in a reactor’s pressure vessel and container vessel were to rise and damage the vessels, allowing radioactive materials to leak. Even in this case, however, there would be no large explosions, and the radioactive materials would remain in the immediate vicinity of the power station. Meanwhile, radiation levels will rise considerably, but according to the law that radiation doses are inversely proportional to the distance from the source squared, residents at least 20 kilometers away from the plant will not be exposed to lethal amounts of radiation. Moreover, the chances that the entire Tokyo metropolitan area will be destroyed from such a turn of events — which seems to be the belief held by some members of the public — is nil.

    After I explained these things in my interview with Radio Fukushima, a local man commented on Twitter: “I felt reassured and was able to have a nice meal. It was the first time in a while that food tasted good to me.” His tweet made me painfully aware of the importance of accurate, appropriate information.

    Employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and cooperating companies, Self-Defense Force troops, and police are on site right now, trying to bring the situation under control. Let us follow what’s going on with a cool head on our shoulders. My hope is that the efforts being made on the ground will lead to a breakthrough in the crisis. (By Hidetoshi Togasawa, Editorial Division)

    The original Japanese story
    記者の目:福島第1原発の放射性物質漏出=斗ヶ沢秀俊(東京編集局)
    毎日新聞 2011年3月18日 東京朝刊
    http://mainichi.jp/select/opinion/eye/archive/news/20110318ddm004070122000c.html

     ◇冷静に事態を見守ろう
     16日、ラジオ福島の電話インタビューに応じた。福島支局長と東京本社科学環境部長を務めた縁で依頼された。私は「皆さんが今受けている放射線量は健康に全く影響しません。安心してください」と断言した。「安心しました」というメールやファクスがたくさん寄せられ、ラジオ福島は何回も再放送したという。人々が放射線の影響をどれほど心配しているのか、改めて痛感した。原子力開発史上前例のない重大な事態であることは言うまでもないが、東京を「脱出」する人もいると聞くにつけ、私たちに必要なことは事態を冷静に見守ることだと思う。

     ◇特殊な数値で不安高まる
     不安が高まったのは15日午前、枝野幸男官房長官が「東京電力福島第1原発3号機周辺で、1時間当たり400ミリシーベルトの放射線量が測定された。これは健康に影響を及ぼす可能性がある数値」と発表した時からだ。この放射線量だと、1時間そこにいた場合、白血球の一時的減少などの症状が出る可能性がある。

     これは3号機の損傷箇所のがれき付近で測定されたとみられる特殊な数値で、同じ敷地内でも第1原発正門の放射線量は同10ミリシーベルト程度だったことが後に分かったが、「400ミリシーベルト」の数値と、健康への影響に言及した枝野長官の姿が繰り返し放映された。

     さらに同日夕、東京都内で原発から飛来した放射性物質が検出されたことが明らかになり、人々の不安は募った。

     実際に、健康影響はあるのか。放射線を人体が受ける「被ばく」には、外部被ばくと内部被ばくがある。外部被ばくは放射線を直接受けることであり、内部被ばくは放射性物質を含む空気を吸い込んだり食品を摂取することによって生じる。当面、問題となるのは、身体が直接受ける外部被ばくだ。

     外部被ばくは2通り考えられる。(1)直接、原発から放出される放射線による被ばく(2)原発から放出された放射性物質が各地に降り、これが放射線を出しているために起こる被ばく--の二つだ。放射線量は「距離の2乗に反比例する」という法則があり、避難範囲である周囲20キロの外側では、(1)の原発からの放射線は無視できる線量になる。

     ◇現時点では健康に影響ない
     各地で測定されている放射線量のほとんどは、(2)の飛来した放射性物質に由来している。福島県のモニタリングで測定された17日夕までの最高線量は最大でも30マイクロシーベルト(マイクロはミリの1000分の1の単位)以下で、多くは2~5マイクロシーベルト。胸部エックス線CTを1回受ける被ばく量が約6900マイクロシーベルト。仮に30マイクロシーベルトが続いたとしても、230時間にわたって外にいてCT1回と同程度という計算になる。

     新聞やテレビの報道で、必ず出てくる言葉がある。「ただちに健康に影響するレベルではない」。この表現は科学的には正しい。私は知人に問われた。「ただちに影響しないということは、後で影響するかもしれないということでしょう」。実際には、合計の被ばく量が100ミリシーベルト以下では、将来がんになる確率が高まることはないとされる。

     いま必要なのは「科学的に正確な情報」よりも「的確な情報」であり、現在の放射線量であれば、「健康に影響がない」と言い切ってよい。

     燃料棒の水面上への露出などにより、放出される放射性物質がもっと増えるなど、事態が深刻化した場合は被ばく量が増える。そうなったら、その時点で避難すべきかどうかを判断しても間に合う。

     もう一つの不安は「チェルノブイリ原発事故のようになるのか」ということだ。チェルノブイリ事故では、運転中に核分裂が制御できなくなり、出力が急上昇して、大爆発、大火災が発生した。膨大な量の放射性物質が上空に達し、世界全体に降り注いだ。

     福島第1原発は1~3号機は地震直後に自動停止して、制御棒が挿入された。4号機は定期点検中だった。いずれも、今は核分裂反応が起こっていない。「チェルノブイリとは全く状況が異なる」というのは、多くの専門家の共通認識だ。

     考えられる最悪の事態は、圧力容器、格納容器内の圧力が高まって損傷し、内部の放射性物質が外部に出ることだが、その場合でも大爆発には至らず、放射性物質の大半は敷地周辺にとどまるだろう。放射線量はかなり高くなるが、それでも「距離の2乗に反比例」するから、20キロ以上離れた地域の住民が致死量に達する放射線を受けることは考えられない。まして、一部の人々が言う「首都圏壊滅」はありえない。

     ラジオ福島でこうした話をした後、福島市の男性がツイッターで「ほんと安心してゆっくりご飯を食べました。久しぶりに味のするご飯でした」と書いていた。被災者にとって的確な情報がいかに必要かを物語っている。

     現場では東電や協力会社の社員、自衛隊、警察関係者らが懸命に放水作業などをしている。冷静に事態を見守ろう。私は現場の努力が実を結び、事態が打開されることを切に願っている。

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     ご意見をお寄せください。〒100-8051毎日新聞「記者の目」係/kishanome@mainichi.co.jp

    ENDS

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