Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time to avoid “fission product release”


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Hi Blog.  I’m sorry to keep quoting sources who wish to remain anonymous, but this is another person I trust, who says:  “Prefer to remain in the background – for now. Please rest assured, my sources are VERY HIGH up in the industry in the United States and are working 24 hours a day to follow this incident due to the dramatic potential ramifications if multiple units ‘meltdown’.”  However, he wishes for this information to be known, and chose to be his venue.  Take this letter within that context.  Arudou Debito


March 18, 2011

In light of the debate occurring over the scope of the nuclear catastrophe on Debito-san’s blog I would like to present some information.

I am not the individual that made the original post (which some have asked Debito to remove) and I agree with some of the arguments refuting that post. Those who have asked Debito to remove the post should also state their credentials as well and provide a more detailed rebuttal to each issue (I do agree with some of the refuting conclusion). My credentials are presented further below.

However I would like to deal with one specific issue, using seawater to cool the reactor and reactor cooling, as this is within my area of expertise. Essentially the only thing that matters now is reactor cooling.

I am glad Debito displayed the original post. It has been interesting for me to watch others debate and react to this issue. I am flabbergasted that the Japanese government and TEPCO still call this a Level 5 incident. I believe it will end up being a Level 6, or if meltdown occurs, Level 7.

Regarding credentials; I have over 25 years experience as a registered professional engineer and have worked in the nuclear power industry. I have performed SSFI inspections (Safety System Functional Inspections) on several power plants and have performed one post accident investigation. My roles in the assessments related to the power distribution system for the reactor cooling system.

I have been discussing this issue with several colleagues, some of whom are top level experts in the nuclear industry and one who is in a position to have access to whatever information the U.S. government has. Because TEPCO has not been at all transparent and has been hesitant to issue any specific technical information on this disaster it is difficult to say for sure what is happening. We also have reason to believe that TEPCO or the government has not been completely forthright (for whatever reason) regarding radiation levels near the plant (but that is outside of my area of expertise).

One of the individuals I have been in contact with has been very accurate in predicting the events as they are unfolding. He was wrong in one of his predictions, that the situation would have resolved itself by now (either meltdown/melt through of the reactor pressure vessel of one of the units or restoration of station power).

We believe radiation is being released in three forms:

1. Slightly radioactive steam from the initial explosions. The initial explosions were caused when TEPCO vented the reactor pressure vessel, hydrogen was released and exploded.

2. Higher levels of radiation being released from burning fuel rods, especially in Unit 4, which was being used for spent fuel storage.

3. Higher levels of radiation from compromised containment in Unit 2 (and possibly other units) due to cracking or some other type of compromising of the containment. This was confirmed last Tuesday when TEPCO and the government reported the pressure in the reactor pressure vessel was at 1 atmosphere (the normal atmospheric pressure outside). Normally these are operating much higher. The fact that these units lost pressure indicates a crack or some type of other event that caused pressure to remain at atmospheric.

At this point the radiation being released is very serious and will undoubtedly cause deaths (most likely in the long term in the form of cancer) in the areas near the reactors (admitted yesterday by the head of TEPCO).

However, the level of radiation released if there is a meltdown of one reactor pressure vessel will dwarf the levels of radiation being released now (up to 10 x 10 to the 5th power higher). This is why cooling is imperative.

Below is our assessment of the situation (this is speculative because TEPCO has not released further information, which may lead us to draw more severe or less severe conclusions). I hope the situation is less severe and they have been able to provide at least minimally cooling.

We believe the cooling situation has become dire. We think at this point, barring a miracle, they clearly are not going to be able to establish any reasonable means of core cooling for the affected units before suffering severe core damage, which means the potential for large fission product release. The wind direction will be up to Mother Nature. The spent fuel pool fire is interesting and very troublesome. There are no barriers against fission product release if the spent fuel rods are involved in the fire. We don’t know the cause of the spent pool fire and nobody’s talking either, which may lead one to draw much more interesting conclusions which are too highly speculative for me to mention.

Below is a technical explanation upon which we base these conclusions.

The earthquake and tsunami caused a “perfect storm” event. That is total loss of onsite power, backup generation, utility station service power, and eventually a loss of DC power due to the fact that the AC power system was not available to charge the station batteries. This is an event that has not occurred before.

We believe that initially the plant did have some limited AC and DC power available, and thus could run pumps and operate valves. However, it appears that they were still unable to keep adequate water on the core. We believe that because of this the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) pressure was allowed to increase to a point that no available pumps had adequate discharge head to overcome the high static pressure in the PRV. In this case the pumps that were pumping try to pump but no water is going into the vessel. We believe with certainty that the most important pump, the High Pressure Coolant Injection (HPCI) pump was not and still is not available. This is a very big pump, 400 horsepower or bigger and is probably too big for the current power available. This pump is capable of dumping 6,000 gallons per minute of cooling water into the RPV.

When they were venting to atmosphere it was clear they were having problems reducing pressure by venting to the torus (which serves as a quench tank during an accident). This led us to believe that the torus was operating at saturated conditions, which means it is not possible to reduce pressure unless the steam bubble in the torus can be collapsed. Obviously they could not do this so they vented to atmosphere and the subsequent explosions occurred. The fact that these initial explosions occurred was due to the fact that hydrogen was vented from the RPV. The presence of hydrogen during the vent was almost certainly due to the fact that the fuel cladding was damaged and the process of a meltdown was in the early stages (likely started very late Friday night or early Saturday morning).

When the fuel cladding material (Zirconium) gets very hot in the presence of moisture it begins to breakdown and hydrogen is formed. The explosions at U1 and U3 were clearly very large, and thus indicative that the operators were venting large volumes of hydrogen gas (along with steam). Because of the magnitude of the explosions (especially Unit 3) this is unmistakably indication of partial melting and deformation of the fuel rod assemblies. This represents the first stage of “melt down.” The fact that the Unit 3 explosion was much, much stronger than Unit 1 indicates the melt down was continuing to get progressively worse. As this melting and deformation progress, the fuel material will eventually drop to the bottom of the RPV. This represents the next stage of meltdown in which the fuel then begins to corrode and melt through the RPV. When this phase of the accident is reached it’s time to clear out (which TEPCO has done, leaving only 50 people on site) since there remains only one of the three fission product barriers intact, the drywell containment structure. At this point we believe that fuel assembly damage has occurred for sure, the core has likely deformed and started to melt, and the process of melting through the RPV has started.

Once you melt down the RPV, you have a “meltdown”. This has not occurred yet, but is still a possible scenario. The only way to avert this is to cool the reactor.

Using seawater to cool the reactor as well as dumping water with helicopters and using water cannons are acts of desperation. Specifically the use of seawater contaminates the reactor cooling system and essentially makes all units scrap and virtually incapable of being reused (good these cannot be reused in my opinion). This is a decision not taken lightly by a utility such as TEPCO.

For your information the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued what they call a “generic letter” in 1988. In this generic letter, which I have sent to Debito-san, the NRC basically addressed this identical event (not tsunami, but total loss of grid power, station service, onsite generation, backup generation, and batteries) and recommended plants using GE Mark 1 reactors address this issue. This was 23 years ago and most or all plants in the U.S. have addressed this issue. It is obvious TEPCO did not with these units. The conclusions in the NRC letter are based on severe accident PRA analyses, which identified two critical areas for the older GE Mark 1 containments that should be improved.

• Alternate water supply to drywell spray & injection
• Better PRV depressurization capability

It is ironic that these were the 2 technical problems that were preventing the plants from reestablishing control in the initial stages of this incident. Had they been able to spray down the torus and drywell, thereby rapidly decreasing RPV and torus pressure, the low head pumps would likely have been available to cover the core. If this would have occurred, they probably would not have needed to resort to seawater injection.

Regarding the management of the situation I have my opinions but will withhold them until the final resolution is reached.

I read the article in the Daily Mail, showing Akio Komiri breaking down and finally admitting that the radiation levels are potentially lethal.



Source letter from United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued what they call a “generic letter” in 1988 (PDF, download, click below:)

64 comments on “Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time to avoid “fission product release”

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    The greatest health effects of all nuclear incidents have been due to the anxiety that people like you are doing their best to ramp up. Thanks a lot for contributing to the problem.

    — Tamp down on the invective, please.

  • AORI-Steve says:

    Debito, I think that this post is flawed.

    First off, your source is not primary but is relying on others for information. Next, I believe the title is misleading (emphasis mine):

    Exclusive to DEBITO.ORG: Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time; there will be “fission product release”

    The actual content (emphasis mine):

    We believe the cooling situation has become dire. We think at this point, barring a miracle, they clearly are not going to be able to establish any reasonable means of core cooling for the affected units before suffering severe core damage, which means the potential for large fission product release.

    While the sentence structure you chose to employ is conditional (i.e., if X then Y), it reminds me of tactics used (very effectively) by Matt Drudge.

    Therefore, I suggest the following title:

    Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time to avoid “fission product release”

    I also removed the “Exclusive to DEBITO.ORG” because, correct me if I am wrong but, there appears to be no new, exclusive information here, though this depends on the definition of “a miracle.” I am fairly confident that all the information presented in this post was already available from the J-gov, Tepco, and the J-media, or from the results of independent US government analysis.

    The main concern is not the absolute amount of radiation released from the plant but the level of radiation outside the current exclusion zone. I did not find the latter addressed. I did find the notation used to describe the former confusing.

    However, the level of radiation released if there is a meltdown of one reactor pressure vessel will dwarf the levels of radiation being released now (up to 10×105 higher). This is why cooling is imperative.

    Is this supposed to be a) 10×105 higher, b) 10-105 x higher, c) 10-100 x higher, or d) 10 x 10^5 higher?

    In the case of (a) this is gibberish.

    In the case of (b) this is either 1) a typo or 2) a poor attempt at indicating a higher level of analytical precision than what actually exists, which reflects poorly on the writer.

    In the case of (c) I believe common sense dictates that we could see such an increase in release during a meltdown. All the credible information I’ve heard regarding a meltdown is that damage would be limited to the exclusion zone.

    In the case of (d) 10 x 10^5 is a very odd way to say one million and leaves a similar impression as case b.2.

    — Thanks for the advice. I have adjusted the title accordingly. Note that I adjusted some time ago the “10 to the 5th power higher”; microsoft formatting issues.

  • You should be very sure of yourself before releasing posts like this one Debito. You are trading on your accumulated reputation in the NJ community. If the nuclear plant accident turns out to be just a massively over-sensationalised local incident you will have portrayed yourself as some kind of unreliable conspiracy theorist. The best advice of governments and experts is that there is NO danger to people outside the 30 km exclusion zone. Meanwhile attention is being diverted from the real disaster, the humanitarian crisis caused by the tsunami.

  • The paid shills and just plain naive apologists are all over the net nowadays.

    This just reinforces the truth about nuclear power: some things are just bad ideas. Can you make a perfectly safe plant? No? Then this is the danger we face.

    Perhaps Japan should send some experts to Iceland to learn about geothermal. Maybe send a few to Portugal and Scotland to learn about wave power. The Iroquois have a philosophy of considering the impact of their actions 7 generations down the line. Our societies need to learn to think that way.

  • “Using seawater to cool the reactor as well as dumping water with helicopters and using water cannons are acts of desperation.”

    The roofs of reactor 1 and 2 are non-existent. The pools that hold the spent fuel rods are exposed, are they not? Therefore, why shouldn’t this be helpful. I was not led to believe that this was an attempt to cool the actual reactors, that would be desperate. The point is to cool the spent fuel rods by getting water into those pools. Even in the case of reactor 3 and 4, the hope is the water will seep in via crack created via the earthquake and explosions and fires. I’d like to be corrected here, if I am wrong.

    As I understand it, they are still injecting sea water into the reactors directly. This is specifically what the company states:

    If that’s accurate, than the chance of a core meltdown in the reactor hopefully will be decreased. I don’t think anything is particularly clear though.

    The crux of the argument this *anonymous* author is making is that TEPCO is lying to us and things are worse. Well, that’s certainly a possibility, I think. But for now, don’t we have to just wait and see?

  • Agree with the previous comment. The last thing we need anonymous scaremongering. Even I can tell that this guy doesn’t have any special information on the situation.

    Please see above links.

  • Steve King says:

    “exclusively to”..

    This once-excellent blog has descended to the level of a tabloid newspaper in the space of a week.

    Numerous credible, named sources — which you continue to brush aside — have stated unequivocally that the risks to the public posed by the Fukushima plant are confined to its immediate vicinity. In that area, yes, it is a serious problem. Outside of that area, it isn’t. For the rest of Japan, it’s a peripheral issue that causes unnecessary panic and a diversion of valuable time and resources away from the people in the North East who need it most.

    They have suffered homelessness, trauma, bereavement and despair, and none of this Doomesday-scenario speculation on the nuclear issue helps them or does them any kind of service whatsoever.

    Signing out in despair,

    Steve King, Tokyo

  • Obviously, the Fukushima reactors have not yet had a total meltdown and there is still the possibility that they never will. But temperature levels in the cooling ponds continue inexorably to climb.

    The nuclear industry has not yet figured out what to do with partially depleted fuel rods. At the Fukushima plant, the amount of radioactive material held as spent fuel far exceeds the amount of fuel actually in the reactor cores. News reports suggest that there are perhaps four times as many spent fuel rods in cooling ponds as in reactors. In the absence of any way of disposing of used fuel rods, they have just been accumulation over the past decades. Chernobyl couldn’t have had that much spent fuel; it was much too early in the history of nuclear power to have accumulated much.

    Chernobyl had two reactors, only one of which blew. The Fukushima Daiichi plant has six reactors, four of which are in dire circumstances. I don’t know whether the amount of nuclear fuel at Fukushima is more or less than was at Chernobyl.

    The dead zone around Chernobyl encompasses 15,000 square miles. A little arithmetic suggests that this much area would be covered by a circle with a radius of about 110 kilometers. That area would constitute a substantial chunk of Honshu. According to the New York Times, the area around Chernobyl will be uninhabitable for more than 300 years.

    TEPCO continues to do what it can, but what it has done hasn’t been very effective. With evacuation currently in place, it is unlikely that there will be a sudden large number of fatalities, so there is no need to panic, but the long term consequences could still be very costly, indeed.

  • Arudou Debito, can you check with your source today and see what he thinks about the reconnected power and resumed pump activity?

    If you could post his views on the new situation with some active pumping capacity that would be useful.

  • Wow, Debito, I expected better from you. There are NUMEROUS sources that prove this false.

    First, please read this

    As this is written by nuclear scientists that know what they are talking about, not the scaremongering, sensationalizing mass media. And then look here, the WHO has publicly stated that there is no health risk

    And then here, a professor of high-velocity particle physics at UCSB has given his expert opinion

    And this one links to what you have said

    That the anti-nuclear press is causing most of the problems

    And here,

    This is a story about how comparing Fukushima and Chernobyl is inaccurate and how the 2 disasters are COMPLETELY different.

    Here is an example of what you have just done

    Media sensationalization that is.

    Here is a link that has various links to other sites with ACCURATE information.

    Notice the theme here? Fear-mongering vs. the truth.

    And finally, for those in Tokyo who are of low intelligence and are easily impressionable,

    a link to a live geiger counter stream in Tokyo.

    Now you know, and knowing is half the battle…G.I. JOE!

  • Tony In Saitama says:

    >I have over 25 years experience as a registered professional >engineer and have worked in the nuclear power industry. I have >performed SSFI inspections (Safety System Functional >Inspections) on several power plants and have performed one >post accident investigation. My roles in the assessments >related to the power distribution system for the reactor >cooling system.
    >I have been discussing this issue with several >colleagues, .some of whom are top level experts in the nuclear >industry and one who is in a position to have access to >whatever information the U.S. government has.

    Why have your correspondent and his colleagues chosen to release (exclusively!) their opinions?
    Why not a more wide reaching forum?
    You do not accept anonymous sources from posters on other issues, and should not do so now. The very fact that it is anonymous renders it valueless.

    Also, you should take down the plugs for your books, it looks like you are exploiting the situation for publicity.
    (I will presume that you are not.)

  • Troy Benjegerdes says:


    I don’t see a lot of invective here, only good information. I find it quite reassuring that the US NRC addressed two major technical issues with this design 23 years ago. This makes it more likely that someone will be able to underwrite the insurance policy I asked for here:

    I understand and appreciate your concern about health effects from anxiety, and I would please ask that you propose positive solutions instead of asking for continued ignorance.

    My view is having the insurance industry (or concerned individuals) underwrite radiological contamination policies would be the best way to put a realistic and rational risk evaluation, and get us focused back on what things really matter, like rebuilding Japan and sustainable replacements for coal plants for the rest of the world.

  • Regarding 10 x 10^5, this is actually 10^6, which is a million. 10^5 is 100,000. 10*10^5 is still a strange way to write one million. It leaves me thinking the author meant to write 100,000, so there is still an order of magnitude of ambiguity.

    Thanks for editing the title.

    I didn’t notice that you had adjusted the formatting error since I posted my comment before 8 am this morning.

  • Now I don’t want to sound like I am bossing you around or anything, but I think as a human rights blog, we should focus more on the victims and survivors right now and let other sources talk about Fukushima. Right or wrong, you are sparking very interesting debates indeed, but at the same time some members are getting tired of it. Don’t want to sound mean or anything, but I do think we should focus our collective minds elsewhere.

  • The Daily Mail is one of the most scientifically inept and downright disingenuous newspapers in the UK. Many scientists call it the Daily Fail. The simple act of quoting it sends alarm bells ringing.

    I have to agree with James@1 – this is not helping. I have to spend significant time Skyping my family back home to reassure them that we’re ok here. My mother is recovering from breast cancer, and is susceptible to infections. She does not need the increased stress, and neither do I.

    — I didn’t know your mother read

  • In response to JFCwow:

    While it is true that the WHO has stated that there is no radiation risk outside the evacuation zone, they also note, “This assessment can change if there are further incidents at these plants.” In fact, there have been a whole series of further incidents and the number of reactors involved and the number of fires, explosions, and breaches of containment structures has increased over time.

    Secondly, while the first speaker from University of California at Santa Barbara specifically discounts the risks to California, the second speaker, an expert in nuclear safety, offers a much more pessimistic outlook, which JFCwow conveniently ignores. The deteriorating situation at Fukushima is discussed starting at about minute 50. The last sentence on the recording (by the first speaker) is, “‘Not a good story’ pretty much sums up the talk.”

    The next link takes us to a far right wing propaganda site which doesn’t deserve citation in any reasonable conversation. I’m also not sure why the “Japan Probe” blog gets cited. Is this also supposed to be a reliable scientific source?

  • Alarmist article and I’m and surprised that you would contribute to the raft of opinions by unqualified people. What a load of rubbish!

    — Is the writer of this blog post all that unqualified, despite outlining qualifications?

  • The pro-nuke apologists are out in force on the internet but much of what they say is poppycock.

    I’ll just take one example from a nuclear industry shill’s post above, that indirectly referenced the UK Chief Science Officer’s opinion here:

    This statement from him:

    “Even following the disaster at Chernobyl, there were no radiation-related problems outside the 30 kilometer (18.6 mile) exclusion zone, the scientist said.”

    is an utter lie as can be verified here:

    where a second zone of contamination is over 100miles away from the plant.

    This is very typical of the nuclear apologists. They are spinning and outright lying like crazy now. Another statement:

    “The worst case scenario would result in an explosion that could send radioactive material about 1,600 feet in the air, he said.”

    That may be the case but if that explosion is Unit 3 experiencing a catastrophic primary container vessel failure, this rather minor explosion in the scheme of things will scatter tons of plutonium and other contaminants all over the site, essentially forcing all people to abandon the 3 adjacent reactors to their fates (maybe Units 5 & 6 and the common spent fuel pool can still be saved since they are in relatively good states now).

    JSP Representative Hattori has posted this very useful summary of the situation:福島第一原発概況_14.pdf

    The key elements one can get from here are:

    燃料プール — for 3号機 it lists 済:514本, 新52本

    ‘本’ here refers to an assembly of 64 fuel rods — each assembly contains ~180kg of fissile material.

    So reactor 3 has ~90 tons of spent fuel in its storage pool. However, late last year its fueling was changed to MOX燃料, which is ~10% plutonium, so I think it can be assumed that the 新52本 in this chart is also MOX.

    So there’s 52本 with ~18kg of plutonium each — that’s ~900kg of plutonium sitting in Unit 3’s spent fueling pool, plus whatever plutonium byproducts exist in the ~33,000 spent fuel rods also there.

    I think that’s why they made cooling Unit 3’s spent fuel pool their first priority — if Unit 3 goes up, it may or may not affect Tokyo that much but say goodbye to the Fukushima I site as a place humans can work in.

    So the UK science officer “worst case” totally ignores how we regain control of Unit 4’s 1535 fuel assemblies!

    Expert opinions differ on whether these pose a further contamination threat. According to wikipedia they are collectively emitting 2MW, or about the heat output of a 3000HP diesel engine.

    I don’t know if these fuel rods’ Zircaloy cladding has all burned off now or there is still more to burn (looking at Unit 4’s building one might conclude the burning is all done now).

    Some experts say there’s a potential for recriticality, as this 2MW of heat continues to heat up the stored fuel and it may start pooling or somesuch.

    Last week the chairman of the NRC said Unit 4’s spent fuel pool was empty, and from the press conferences I’ve seen the Nuclear Safety Commission guy has been rather evasive on this point.

    At any rate, we’ll know soon enough who’s right. As Feynman said, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

  • Thanks debito for posting this. It seems legit and I trust it more than all the daijobu crowd. I personally think that much radiation escaped, and that Japanese covered it up.

  • @Jim

    You can’t “cover up” a radiation leak, Jim. Anyone can buy a Geiger counter. And for God’s sake, who are the “Japanese”?

  • I think the majority of people–and the majority of scientists and others who do these things for a living–really don’t know what the exact dangers are from the Fukushima crisis. They don’t really even know how risky or safe nuclear energy is compared to other sources.

    You can take one tack, and say that the risks are containable, and that we can measure or otherwise make an educated guess about them. Other people look at worst-case scenarios, which seems to be what the trend for Debito’s posts are, and the result is pretty scary.

    The angle I have been focusing on is how Corporate Truths, when laid bare as convenient falsehoods, lead to distrust. Japan lives on Corporate Truths (no source for that–it’s opinion obviously). People get told things, and tell themselves things, just to get over or to get by.

    It could be that everything is A-OK after you get so many miles outside of the Fukushima region. It can also be that there will be a significant release of the fissionable material or byproduct. I think the point is: who knows? That’s what makes it scary for the people affected by this.

    I am not sure who promised the zero emissions, but it sounds like zero meant something so close to zero that it wouldn’t be an issue, like a limit in calculus. It doesn’t sound like Fukushima is anything near that this afternoon. If it were, they could just send the TEPCO personnel in and flick a switch to shut the process off.

    Nobody wants to be needlessly scared. But radiation is a topic that frightens people, especially when they see other people trying to avoid or get away from it. Or when they think that a grandchild might be born in the future without an eye or a hand. They don’t want to play stats. They don’t want to know the numerical risk. They want out of harm’s way.

  • the Insurance industry makes it livelihood on assessing risk and charging the appropriate premiums for the liability insurance. The insurance industry was unable to do this for nuclear power plants because the risk of a worst case scenario was just too big to quantize. Probably for national security reasons the Price-Andersen Act was passed so that the nuclear power plants were exempt from being sued. If you were ever really bored and read your car insurance policy completely you might have noticed the nuclear incident exclusion.
    So there you have it – even after over a half a century of commercial nuclear power operation, nuclear power is too risky for nuclear power plants to be insured. Thats really all you have to know to realize that using nuclear fission to boil water is just a dumb idea.

  • JFCwow’s links to ‘Japanprobe’ seem to be broken. The way it has been broken is…. interesting (興味を起こさせる).

    As usual David, I can’t help but notice the divide in opinion between the truly ‘fresh-off-the-boat’ foreign residents and those who have ventured longer and farther into the wilds of Japan beyond relatively cosmopolitan Tokyo — a convenient, self-preserving (and rather understandably defensive) denial, until that first hard, inhospitable cold slap in the face that often confronts the new pilgrim — we are only ever going to be told what the government and TEPCO have approved for public release, with the scale being tipped greatly toward ‘caution, socially acceptable reserve, and control’ rather than any immediate ‘right to know’, and ‘we resent any questioning of our methods — period’.

    But as usual (and I am writing this from Beijing, the World Capital of Government-Issued Dark Information, where I am now and with whom I’m doing business), any speculation on the real situation is aggravated to the negative by the government’s inability to be forthcoming, so we’ll see the gamut running from sensational claims to abject denial from the spectators. As a naturalized Japanese and an engineer, it is difficult for me to believe that the situation is as non-threatening as the official statements indicate, though I do believe our anonymous contributor leans a bit to the sensational. I also believe it is disingenuous for the government to state: “We have now approached a level of similar status to Three Mile Island” as we are officially informed, when in fact it is superficially obvious it is quite well beyond that — involving three reactor cores and their inadequately protected storage ponds.

    1. Radiated condensate (now thousands of tons of water) — where will it go? It HAS to end up somewhere.
    2. Radioactive steam is still being vented to atmosphere — we’ve been lucky with the wind direction.
    3. We still have an ‘unknown’ casualty count.

    But I suggest we stop the relatively unqualified technical speculation and direct our collective energies toward demands that the government be more immediately forthcoming for all our sakes. Until we feel comfortable that they are, the wild speculation will continue on both ends of the spectrum.

  • Yep, a lot of people on here critiqing Debito’s personality, not the content of what’s in the original article or the postings. This is a blog where sensible people share opinions, not shock jock radio. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.

    Come back soon D.

  • Correct me as I am wrong. NOW Radiation levels in food, water and air assessed OUTSIDE the Fukushima area are very low, even in cases higher than the average. The temperature levels are going (slowly) to normal levels (and anyway, with no nuclear reaction happening in the reactors, they will cool down eventually). Now authorities also say they have re-estabilished power lines to the reactors (hopefully the pumps will start working today). Now, I do believe that there will be long-term damages to the area immediately surrounding Fukushima, and that many of those heroes fighting there will pay with their lives their efforts… but for people living outside the Plant neighborhoods there won’t be any immediate danger… how do you feel?

  • – I didn’t know your mother read

    She doesn’t, I’m referring to the hype in general. That said, with the extreme interconnection of the web I wouldn’t be surprised if the posts on had some effect.

    — Who’s being alarmist now?

  • but for people living outside the Plant neighborhoods there won’t be any immediate danger… how do you feel?

    Depends on how many tons of plutonium was released into the environment, really.

    NISA has been very squirelly about how much of the stored fuel went up in smoke last week.

    Plus they’ve been flushing three reactor pressure vessels into the ocean for the past 8 days too.

    They’ve reported the elevated cesium and iodine levels but haven’t said a single thing about the plutonium that’s also in these cores.

    I don’t think they will lie but I do think they will withhold the truth if it is really really bad.

    To put things in perspective, each reactor had around 500 assemblies, each holding 180kg of fissile material. Unit 3 was fueled with “MOX”, or 6-10% plutonium replacing some of the enriched uranium.

    All 3 cores have been running with the upper meter or two of their fuel rods outside of cooling for over a week now. When this happened at Three Mile Island, when investigators were able to cut open the reaction pressure vessel they found half the core had become slag at the bottom of the vessel.

    So with Fukushima-I we have roughly 270 tons of uranium and 9 tons of plutonium in these cores, all which have melted down to some extent, while being flushed with tons of seawater out into the ocean.

    Additionally, we have the stored fuel of Units 1, 3 & 4 apparently cooking off to a lesser or greater extent, dumping unknown quantities of contaminants largely into the ocean, with the wind.

  • I am the author of this (the 2nd) article. I cannot sit here and watch people attack Debito-san for something I wrote. I am a Permanent Resident of Japan, live in the Kansai region, and work as an engineer in Japan and likely I am the only or one of very few foreigners doing what I do in Japan. I am a proponent of nuclear power and have stated my qualifications.

    I cannot believe my article created such a sh&tstorm and so many kneejerk reactions. I stated clearly that the scenario I presented was based on what information is known and could be better or worse than that scenario I posed. This scenario was premised by myself and several other experts in the industry.

    It is not at all alarmist – it is a realistic scenario and is the most likely one. TEPCO has formally announced they will decommission units 1 through 4 (which they have to due to the use of seawater anyway) which is a good thing. As stated above I remain a proponent of nuclear power, but not a proponent of extending the life of aging plants. The more modern designs are much safer and have improved through years of analysis and learning from other incidents (such as TMI).

    To the person who asked about my opinion of the restoration of power and starting of cooling pumps. That is great! If they can do that and provide adequate cooling to the core using the high pressure coolant injection pump they can easily safely cool the plant. If this happens it is a tribute to the folks brave enough to hang around and get this done. They have likely sacrificed their life to prevent a meltdown. It is not a tribute to the J-government or TEPCO as a company.

    To Steve, Mark, all the other folks that have reacted to my article. Thanks for your information but I have already read it and stand by what I wrote. I have given Debito-san permission to release my contact information to you directly and that is up to him. I would be happy to meet with you personally or engage in another form of communication to discuss this further. Not sure if that would change your mind or opinion of the situation but we both may learn something. Also I am not sure any of you have ever been in a nuclear power plant or are familiar with the design of reactor cooling systems, but sitting down with a piping diagram (P&ID) of the reactor cooling system would make my technical explanation very clear.

    I hope someone asks some very serious questions to both the government and TEPCO. They owe it to the public to answer them clearly and explained exactly what happened. I do not believe they have been completely forthcoming and transparent.

    To those critizing Debito for what I wrote, please lay off. The article I wrote is a current event, provides some documentation, and provides a starting point for discussion. Although I disagree with alot of what was written in the previous article I also think he was right to post that as well.

    Feel free to attack the technical aspects of my posts (would love to hear what you guys have to say about reactor cooling, venting of the PRV, etc.). If there is someone out there with an opposing specific technical analysis I am all ears. I am an engineer and do not do well with personal attacks as I think they are a bunch of bullsh&t and a waste of time.


  • For those who can read German, here is a record of TEPCO’s fantastic mismanagement.

    Perhaps nothing exceptional in the corporate world, but my stomach is churning.

    Most significantly, there were missed inspections and faked documentation for years upon years. You’ll find Fukushima mentioned a few times.

    There is no reference to his name in this article, but I also read a couple of days ago that one of the main engineers involved in the construction of the Fukushima nuclear complex stated that they simply copied the design given to them by GE.

    He said that **no special provisions whatsoever** were made for Japan’s geographic condition (tsunamis, earthquakes).


    * In den achtziger und neunziger Jahren hat Tepco mehrfach die Daten aus freiwilligen Inspektionen gefälscht, darunter die Anzahl der Risse in den Reaktordruckbehältern.
    * 1991 und 1992 wurde der Sicherheitsbehälter des Reaktorblocks 1 des AKW Fukushima, der bereits 1971 ans Netz gegangen war, auf Undichtigkeiten geprüft. Arbeiter haben laut Tepco dabei Luft in die Sicherheitsbehälter gepumpt, um die Rate der Leckagen zu verringern.
    * Im AKW Fukushima musste im Jahr 2000 ein Reaktor wegen eines Lochs in einem Brennstab abgeschaltet werden. Schon 1997 und 1994 hatte es ähnliche Vorfälle gegeben, bei denen etwas Radioaktivität freigesetzt wurde.
    * 2002 wurden in dem AKW Risse in Wasserrohren entdeckt.
    * Ebenfalls 2002 hatte ein Ingenieur des US-Unternehmens General Electric, Hersteller von drei der sechs Reaktoren des AKW Fukushima-Daiichi, Alarm geschlagen: Bei insgesamt 13 Reaktoren in Tepco-Kraftwerken seien Inspektionen nicht durchgeführt worden. Er zeigte der japanischen Atomaufsichtsbehörde Datenfälschungen und Vertuschungen in 29 Fällen an, was 2002 den besagten Rücktritt der Tepco-Führung auslöste.
    * 2006 trat radioaktiver Dampf aus einem Rohr im AKW Fukushima aus.
    * Ebenfalls 2006 wurde dem Konzern vorgeworfen, Daten über die Kühlwassertemperatur in ihren Reaktoren in den Jahren 1985 und 1988 gefälscht zu haben. Die Daten seien noch 2005 bei Inspektionen vorgelegt worden. 2007 tauchten weitere gefälschte Reaktordaten von Tepco auf.
    * 2007 starben mindestens acht Menschen, als das Kraftwerk Kashiwazaki-Kariwa bei einem Erdbeben schwer beschädigt wurde. Rohre barsten, Feuer brachen aus, aus einem Abklingbecken mit verbrauchten Brennstäben schwappte radioaktives Wasser. Tepco musste das betroffene Reaktorgebäude dekontaminieren. Danach blieb das AKW ein Jahr lang abgeschaltet, weil die Erdbebensicherheit – die angeblich schon vorher bestand – erhöht werden musste. Später stellte sich heraus, dass Tepco 117 Inspektionen in Kashiwazaki versäumt hatte.
    * Im März 2009 kam es erneut zu einem Brand im AKW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, ein Arbeiter wurde verletzt.
    * Am 2. März 2011 – wenige Tage vor Beginn der Erdbebenkatastrophe – hat Japans Atomaufsicht massive Schlamperei-Vorwürfe gegen Tepco erhoben. Insgesamt 33 Teile des havarierten AKW Fukushima-Daiichi, darunter zentrale Elemente des Kühlsystems der sechs Reaktoren und der Abklingbecken, seien nicht wie vorgeschrieben überprüft worden. Tepco hat die Versäumnisse inzwischen eingeräumt.
    * Zugleich meldete Tepco an die Atomaufsichtsbehörde, dass man nicht nur 33 Inspektionen im AKW Fukushima-Daiichi, sondern auch 19 weitere im nahe gelegenen AKW Fukushima-Daini unterlassen habe.
    * Fachleute warnen zum Teil schon seit den siebziger Jahren davor, dass der Mark-I-Reaktor des US-Herstellers General Electric – auch “Fukushima-Design” genannt – nicht dafür ausgelegt sei, eine Kombination aus Erdbeben und Tsunami heil zu überstehen. Wenige Tage nach dem Erdbeben bestätigten zwei Konstrukteure des Kraftwerks auf einer Pressekonferenz gravierende Baufehler. Viele Rückfallsysteme seien für den Notfall nicht ausgelegt gewesen.”


    and also:

  • All

    I am trying to address all of the criticisms of my post below. I am a bit pressed for time so this is a bit brief. For those that criticized my article and provided alternative information, I take no offense and I still stand by the original article and technical assessment of the situation. As for the personal attacks – I have no comment.

    Regarding the implication (did not seem to be too strong an implication though) Debito-san is using this to plug his book I think it is quite obvious he is not. Based on the number of negative reactions to my post it is quite obvious that is not his intent.

    This is a fast moving situation and a lot has transpired in a few days. There is some very good news about getting power to the plant, and some troubling news about radiation (albeit very low levels) in food, milk, tap water, and fish. Anyway my brief replies below.

    Post 2 – AORI – Steve
    You are correct I do not have direct access to the information presented and no one outside of TEPCO does. They are feeding some information to the NRC and IAEA. The situation was analyzed based on available information. Also you are right, the article was not intended to “present new information” but provide a plausible technical analysis. The only new information presented was the NRC letter which I have not seen published anywhere else. Regarding the level of radiation, this is ionizing radiation, which decreases by distance cubed. This would not necessarily result in a direct hazard to Tokyo for example. In the event of Chernobyl, a much worse accident due to the flaws in the overall reactor design, the exclusion zone was 30km. On the other hands, fires or radioactive steam coupled with onshore winds could potentially pose a risk of exposure to levels above defined acceptable limits. Regarding the expression of the radiation level it is common to use exponential values in the industry. I could have used 1,000,000 but my opinion this would sound more extreme than 10×105. Sorry if it “reflects poorly on me”.

    Post 3 – Michael – I believe the 80KM zone recommended by the U.S. NRC and EU is more appropriate. This was actually stated by the U.S. NRC and there are several sources available.

    Post 5 – Matt D – Your last sentence is correct, all things considered we have to “wait and see”. However TEPCO does not have a stellar reputation regarding transparency.

    Post 7 – Steve King – You are right about the victims of the quake and tsunami. My field is engineering and I am not an expert in disaster relief. The article is trying to pose a technical explanation of what happened and what the realistic risks are. If a total meltdown does occur (becoming less likely) the radiation effects (more long term than short) would extend further away from the reactor site. Also I do not believe my article speculates “doomsday” in any way whatsoever and was not intended to do so.

    Post 9 – If they get coolant back and can run the high pressure injection pumps it is absolutely fantastic!!!!

    Post 10 – Yes there are differing opinions. I am also a proponent of nuclear power by the way. I personally think there will be long term health effects from this event – If I am wrong then that is great!!! In my opinion trying to explain why the available pumps, given that no outside source of power and no onsite generation was available, could not overcome the pressure in the PRV is not scaremongering at all, rather a technical explanation as to why they could not cool the reactors adequately. They really need the high pressure coolant injection pump. Also Chernobyl and this event are quite different. I am fully aware of that and that is the reason I did not even try to compare the two.

    Post 11 – I posted to Debito just to provide a plausible technical explanation of what is going on. I am not a journalist and was replying to a blog that I read. I felt that some readers were criticizing the original post (not by me) justifiably however seemed to be under stating the potential risks of the situation. Regarding Debito plugging for his book I think it is obvious he is not since my post has created more of a negative reaction than positive.

    Post 13 – I quoted the Daily Mail only to show the head of TEPCO did admit the plant was releasing radiation at a high enough level to be deadly. Regarding your comment about my research skills; Can you please tell me if the article was correct or incorrect about the head of TEPCO weeping and making that admission?

    Post 14 – I actually intended to write 1,000,000. Sorry if my use of exponents caused confusion. You are correct it is a confusing way to express the magnitude but is common in the industry. I was not trying to overstate or understate the level of radiation.

    Post 22 – Hoofin – BINGO – no one knows for sure what will happen and I think that was stated in my original post. We do not have enough information to make a complete assessment. Once again I was trying to provide a technical assessment of the situation at hand. After reading replies to the original post (before mine) I had the feeling there were many people who were taking the situation too lightly and thinking this is “no big deal”. Actually a loss of cooling accident at any plant is a very big deal in the industry and has the potential to impact human life in both the near and long term.

    Post 27 – You made a couple of interesting points – the people that stuck around and fought this are heroes and should be treated as such. Also there more than likely will be no immediate danger to people outside the plants but it would be interesting to check back in 10~20 years and see what type of long term effects have occurred.

    Post 29 – The recent information coming about radiation levels in the ocean are troublesome. It will be interesting to see how far into the food chain this goes. I agree with your comparison to TMI and the slag on the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel. The forensic assessment of this event, if it occurs, would be interesting. However if the reactor is ultimately encased (still a possiblilty) forensic analysis may not occur.

  • Michael Weidner says:

    I love how people are quick to attack on here. It makes for interesting reading.

    #1 – If there wasn’t a reason to be worried, why would the Japanese Government call in teams from other countries to come help with the reactor issues?

    #2) Why would France ask that all their Nationals return to France and charter plans specifically for this purpose?

    #3) Why would Canada and the US ask that their Nationals evacuate to a 80km radius around the site, which is much higher than 30km that the Japanese Government stated was safe distance?

    #4) Why would you want to mess around with the possibility of being irradiated?

    I do believe that the Japanese Government is not telling us everything in regards to the incident. I do believe they are restricting that info because they don’t want to cause panic and mass hysteria. I also believe that TEPCO failed to alert the Government to the full situation and perhaps are not fully aware of the entire condition themselves. I can only assume those things as I am not directly in the know, but from watching the actions of those involved it seems the most likely conclusion.

    Now, getting back to the attacking of Debito. Why? He was concerned and was spreading this info to help people out. This is Nuclear Radiation people. You should be freaked out. You should be afraid. While it may not be Chernoble, it still could be a big issue and we should take appropriate precausions. There is nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst-case scenerio. In this case, it might actually be the best course of action. If nothing happens then you are ready in case something like this happens in the future. If something does happen, you are prepared and not caught with your proverbial pants down.


    That all being said, living in Hokkaido I am not all that concerned, but I am not going to sit by and wait until it’s too late to do anything.

    This is how I am preparing:
    I carry my passport and cell phone on me at all times.
    I am aquiring Potassium Iodide Tablets.
    I listen to the news religiously.

    I am still living my day to day life as normal but am on a cautious alert in-case things do go south. I am calmly making these decisions based upon guidance of the Canadian Embassy and my own common sense.

    This post kinda went to a different place than I was intending at the start, but my main point being that attacking Debito only accomplishes one thing: attacking Debito. It doesn’t help any of the victims of these disasters, it doesn’t make you any more prepared in the event of something worse, and it perhaps may lull those people susceptable into believing that there is nothing at all to worry about. Let’s have a moratorium on attacking and have a wide-spread love-in with Common Sense. I think that’s about the only thing we need at this juncture.

  • I will first summarize the facts (as I understand them) to ensure we’re on the same page.

    Doug has professional experience assessing power distribution systems for reactor cooling systems and has been in discussion with top-level nuclear experts in the US who have unrestricted access to all relevant information possessed by the US government.

    Through this discussion, Doug and colleagues concluded that:

    A) radiation currently being released from vented steam, burning fuel rods, and compromised containment was sufficiently high to contribute to terminal cancer in people in the direct vicinity of the damaged reactors, and that if cooling attempts fail and meltdown occurs, radiation increase would be on the order of 10^6 (one million).

    B) partial meltdown had begun based on the desperate measures taken to cool the reactors, the severity of hydrogen explosions, and the small number of workers on site.

    C) it was highly unlikely that the reactors would be cooled in time to prevent a full meltdown and there could be a potential million-fold increase in released radiation.

    I agree with A and B. As Doug mentioned, Tepco had already admitted to several of the above points, and the others had already been widely reported. As I understand it, A and B add no new information, so the entire post boils down to C, which is the controversial point that would have been the topic of debate.

    These three points were presented in a post by Debito that:

    E) was originally titled “Exclusive to DEBITO.ORG: Another trustworthy source connected with the industry believes, short of a miracle, Fukushima reactors won’t be cooled enough in time; there will be ‘fission product release.'”

    F) included a note indicating that Doug, who at the time remained anonymous, was getting information from sources in the US.

    G) had the title changed at my suggestion.

    I understand Doug’s dismay regarding the reaction to his article, and I believe personal attacks on Debito are uncalled for. However, I also believe that Debito is not entirely without responsibility for the above “sh&tstrom,” and that the blame should not be placed wholly on Debito’s readers. As I outlined in my first comment, the original title of this post was very poorly chosen.

  • Maybe this is not very related to this topic but I’ve heard something quite disgusting from a doctor in Fukushimi (on Euronews), this person said that the children are treated well but he fears that they children will be discriminated and bullied by the other kids because they might be ill or contaminated.

    In a country where you can be bullied for such reasons as your parents are divorced or one of them is a gaijin, this could be another reason for discrimination.

    I realy hope the Japanese will stay united and will only blame the good persons or company.

    — Quite. The Asahi reports that MHLW has told hotels not to refuse lodgers from Fukushima. See, the GOJ can be quick to caution against discrimination if they really want to.

    福島からの被災者、宿泊拒否しないで 厚労省呼びかけ
    2011年3月19日17時51分 朝日新聞




  • Dan Cronin says:

    Hope to see you back soon. Your intentions and record are unimpeachable. Wish the naysayers had more pressing concerns in their lives than a need to attack you. It really says a lot about them.

  • Thanks for a very interesting post and following arguments.

    My view as a lay person and father is that risk assessment and responses to it need to allow for a good margin of error, and therefore the American’s 80km recommendation seems a much better idea than being optimistic and adjusting after the event with people being caught as victims – as as happened for example in the 30km zone. I would hope that the government could find the resources amidst their gargantuan existing effort to effect this, especially for children, as temporary measure.

    The point then becomes not just what is a reasonable worst case, which this article contributes to, but what margin of error we need to allow for in a situation which is currently not fully understood.

    I also think people actually living in Fukushima and other areas who are trying to think what best to do for their families have some options. I know it helped us. I have posted some steps people can take to find out if accommodation or other help may be available for them through official or NPO sources in safer areas, for example west Japan here:


    Please note this is not a recommendation for a particular course of action – it is just for people to include in their options, particularly if they have children.

  • The hypocrisy of fear is outstanding! Coal power plants alone kills 170,000 people world wide ever year from disease related to breathing in coal pollution, in total 300,000 died in the world every year from coal, oil and gas burning![1] Even using greenpeace’s figures of 60,000-140,000 dead from Chernobyl[2] it would take more then two Chernobyl class nuclear reactors completely meltingdown and exploding without containment EVERY YEAR to match the death rates of coal, oil and gas pollution! Mind you Fukushima plants have several layers of containment, and have only vented coolant. Yet no one gets hysterical that a little coal or car exhaust smog slightly increases their cancer rates but they go crazy with fear that a little radiation might slightly increases their cancer rates! How can people be so hypocritical?!?!

    The city of Ramsar in Iran is naturally more radioactive then the Chernobyl evacuation zone now[3][4], yet thousands of people live there, have for generations and no evidence of elevated cancer rates[5]. Airline pilots and crew get exposed to elevated radiation levels flying high, yet no increase cancer rates[6] So small increases in background radiation is not going to hurt you! Now sure radiotoxins like radioactive Iodine, Strontium and to a lesser extent radioactive Ceasium (doesn’t concentrate well in the body) can be very harmful but it all dependent on how you imbibe (drink, inhale or eat) them, who imbibes them (children most at risk with growing thyroids (iodine) and bones (strontium)) and most of all how much, the dosage. For example because of Ceasium fallout from Chernobyl there are sheep all the way in scotland that are regulated as unsafe for human consumption, yet you could eat a years supply of lamb chops from them boost your yearly radiation exposure a tiny 3-5%, a single chest X-ray can do more![7]

    Now Fukushima did not release as much radiation and radiotoxins as Chernobyl by far, and more so the japanese need land: I put high probabilities that the Fukushima evacuation is temporary and will be up by years end, and the people will ultimately be better off returning to their homes, and will ultimately be less harmed by this incident than had there been coal power plant in the place of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

    Now I’m all for renewable energy, but we are still building coal powerplants right now, and if I had to choose I would be building nuclear instead of coal, If I had to choose which to protest in front of I would protest the construction of coal! Yet people do the opposite: they protest nuclear and yet are far more inclined to standby when its coal. I say end the hypocrisy, I say do logical risk assessment instead of irrational fear!


  • BTW, anyone who is comparing the current MsV values to x-rays or flights from Tokyo to NYC is ridiculously irresponsible.
    In the case of x-rays, flights etc. one is exposed on a time-limited basis. No-one in their right mind would spend two weeks under the x-ray, would they?

    But in this case, 15 MsV an hour equal 131 Sievert a year. That means: a lethal dosage is reached after 11 days of continuous exposure.

    And, things are not looking well at all with Fukushima reactor no.3. Plutonium’s half-life is 24,000 yrs. and it is very prone to settling down in people’s bones.

    My suggestion? If you are of fragile health anyway, or if you have a child that you love, you should leave the Tokyo area and be very cautious about your food for the next few weeks. No job (including tenure) is worth it.

    Instead of informing the public and making sure evacuation within a wider radius is carried out properly, the government and TEPCO have been talking crap. I don’t care about Ishihara drinking tap water on TV, he has enough money to bathe in mineral water for the rest of his life. Most people in the Fukushima area and Tokyo do not.

    This is not panic. I simply value human life, especially the lives of children, far more than I value politicians and managers (in Japan or elsewhere).

  • I read (since I am still on the e-mail list) that the U.S. Embassy is making Potassium Iodide available to American citizens in Japan who want it, simply as a precaution for when Number Three goes. If.

    I am still in the camp that thinks a tragic result can’t be entirely ruled out. Every time the people connected to the plants make us feel like everything is under control, some other bit of bad news comes out.

    This is what Three Mile Island was like, and I remember that time well.

  • 15 MsV ?
    My god man, Tokyo must be a warzone if there’s 15 Mega Volt seconds — or 150 kilo maxwells of magnetic flux going on.
    What kind of area is that taken over though? According to wiki the max ever recorded is 8 Teslas… but depending on the area we could be looking at over ONE MILLION times that magnetic flux per square meter.
    I’m not even sure any doctors will know the health effects of being in the kind of magnetic field that must generate?

  • AORI-Steve says:

    Kaegi, your math is correct, but you numbers are not.

    When you say “But in this case,” and subsequently recommend leaving Tokyo if you meet certain criteria, I interpret that you believe that 15 mSv is the current dosage in Tokyo. If so, you have overestimated the radiation dosage in Tokyo on the order of ten thousand times. If not, then I am not sure why you are using 15 mSv in this case.

    For current dosage information, please reference an independent site like this from the University of Tokyo

    Or this guy in western Tokyo

    Especially if you’re worried about coverups.

    At the Hongo campus, the last update from yesterday’s outdoor geiger counter shows about 0.3 µSv/hour. Please note the µ is micro. So you should base your calculations on 0.0003 mSv/hour, not 15 mSV/hour.

    Doing that yields the following:

    (0.0003 mSv/hour) * (24 hours) = 0.0072 mSv/day * 365 days = 3 mSv/year (rounded up).

    One CT scan averages about 7 mSv at once. The amount of natural radiation at any given place is also dependent on geology. The town of Guarapari, Brazil averages 10 mSv/year (Wikipedia lists a figure an order of magnitude higher but it is unsourced and, I believe, incorrect.)

  • “Foreign thieves”











  • debito,

    I have remained silent, but you cannot let the above post by Kaegi stand without correction.
    I will optimistically assume you are just letting all comments through without much review during your vacation.

    Kaegi (deliberately?) confuses millisieverts and microsieverts.
    15 microsieverts per hour would equal 0.13 Sieverts per year.

    The current radiation level in Tokyo is 0.1microSieverts per hour. Less than 1 milliSievert per year.

    The above post has multiplied that by a factor of 150,000. For what reason, I do not know.

    The typical range for the sum of all sources of background radiation exposure per year is from 1 – 10 milliSieverts.
    While the average exposure due to medical testing in any advacned society is 1.2 milliSieverts.

    However, the radiation exposure levels in Fukushimia itself are perhaps a source for greater concern.

    I assume you have let such a comment through without even a “Source,please” comment because you are on vaction?

  • Kaegi, you said “BTW, anyone who is comparing the current MsV values to x-rays or flights from Tokyo to NYC is ridiculously irresponsible.
    In the case of x-rays, flights etc. one is exposed on a time-limited basis. No-one in their right mind would spend two weeks under the x-ray, would they?”

    I think you’ve misunderstood the x-ray/CT Scan analogies. They’re not saying the radiation is consistently the same strength as the radiation given out by an x-ray or a CT scan, they’re saying that the radiation is at such low doses that cumulative exposure to it over a certain period of time would be equivalent to one x-ray/CT Scan.

    Taking your example of an x-ray over two weeks, that would mean that you are exposed to the same amount of radiation over the course of two weeks that you would be exposed to in one x-ray. I’m not in any way an expert, so I’ll be conservative in my estimates. Lets say a dental x-ray exposes you to 2 or 3 mrem (, and lets say a dental x-ray takes about 5 minutes for the actual scan (just based on my personal experience). There are around 20,000 minutes in two weeks, which we can divide by 5 (roughly the time of an x-ray) to get 4000. If we then divide 3 mrem by 4000, we get 0.00075 mrem. This is the amount of radiation you you would be exposed to consistently, not the full strength of an x-ray.

    So to summarise, no-one is saying you will be exposed to the full strength of an x-ray for two weeks (which would come to 12,000 mrem in this example, and would be dangerous), but rather that you will be exposed to a tiny portion of radiation, which if we assume constant exposure for two weeks would come to a cumulative total of 2 or 3 mrem.

    I’m not saying don’t panic, or that the situation in the Fukushima plants is nothing to worry about, I’m just trying to get the argument from each side straight.

  • Kaegi,

    When did I say mSv? and MSv is Mega not milli, One exposure to MSv/hr for only one second would be lethal! Now exposure to 15 mSv (milli) an hour probably would not be fatal even if you sat in that for a year. Also X-ray and CT scanners don’t work on a hourly basis, they hit you with ionizing radiation in seconds to minutes: a chest X-ray is 100-300 uSv (micro) a second, and if say you got one per hour that would be 100-300 uSv/hr.

    Lower dosages over a longer period of time are not equal to high dosages over a very short period of time, there is clear evidence radiation damage is not cumulative: this is why airliner crews and the people of Ramsar don’t have elevated cancer rates despite being exposed to elevated radiation over a very long periods of time. We only have clear evidence for cancer from exposure to greater then 100 mSv and that is exposure over a short period of time, we have very little evidence for what 100+ mSv per year does to a person, what evidence we do have points to it being harmless.

    The average dosage at Pripyat (the city abandoned because of Chernobyl is 9 mSv/year, let me repeat 9 milli-Sieverts PER YEAR, or 1 MICRO-Sivert per hour. The Populated spa town of Ramsar averages 10.6 mSv/yr, and up to 260 mSv/yr in some places.

    Plutonium release has yet to be detected, also the toxicity of plutonium has been grossly exaggerated: if eaten its toxicity is on par with caffeine[1], even people who have inhaled it did not die of lung cancer as expected.[2]. Also the longer the half-life of a radioisotope the less harmful it is radiological because it gives off less radiation per unit of time. Now Pu-238 has a half-life of only 87.7 years yet it did not stop them from making nuclear power pacemakers with the stuff.[3]

    If you want to be cautious about what you eat I advice you don’t eat red meat, that has and will kill far more people in japan then this nuclear incident.[4] In fact I stand by my estimation that had they had coal or oil burning power plants in the place of these nuclear plants, over the last 40 years the cumulative deathtoll from all the smog pollution would have by many many times greater then from this nuclear incident.


  • “If there is no problem then why is the us military evacuating the troops ,their dependents and contractors out of Japan?”

    So much for “the Mission” I often wondered what all them civilians were doing on the bases here. Im sure the Japanese are wondering now that they have all hauled ass. They pay billions in taxes to support “the mission” only to have them all leave when shit hits the fan. I was at Atsugi base and it was empty except some Marines. They usually always get stuck with “the Mission”

  • Kaegi,

    > leave the Tokyo area
    > No job (including tenure) is worth it.

    That may be.
    However, there are factors that may make it more difficult for some people.
    For example, what should people on working visas do?
    If they quit their job and move to somewhere else in Japan, they will have a very limited window to find a new job before their visa is voided. And yet jobs are not so easy to come across now.
    If on the other hand they quit their job and leave the country, they are required to give up their foreigner card and their visa will immediately become void.
    Getting back into the country later will be just as difficult as it was the first time. Also note that the 10-year clock on permanent residency will reset as well.

    Again, all of this may not matter to some people.
    But speaking personally, I have already made two large sacrifices into order to reside in Japan.
    I intend on living the rest of my life here. Hopefully it will be longer than shorter.

  • the authorities seem to have been incompetent in many ways,but you have to admire the way they are dripping
    the bad news out only little by little. a lot of the stuff reported now is only being released a few days after discovered..


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