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Reporting Fukushima headlines

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Four viewpoints on some of the more catastrophic scenarios around Fukushima which are currently in the blogosphere.

On Fukushima Fears and Sensationalistic Reporting

Dan Sythe, Geiger Counter Bulletin
There is an incredible amount of disinformation going on these days about Fukushima Daiichi. A lot of people are frightened by it and they call me or email me, wanting to know what I think about it.

The situation at Fukushima Daiichi is tragic and difficult. My heart goes out to the people working there, the people who have been displaced…and those who continue to live in the shadow of this disaster. Itʻs a sad situation. Iʻve been to Japan 8 or 9 times since the disaster, and Iʻm hoping I can find new and better ways to help the situation there.

Without downplaying the danger and difficulties, it is important to note that some people are exaggerating the situation at Fukushima Daiichi, for unknown reasons, in very dramatic ways. I am bombarded these days with links to websites with apocalyptic messages of imminent disaster, which fortunately do not seem to be based on reality...

For a reality check I always look to the people at Safecast. They do an incredible job of staying in touch with the people of Fukushima…many of them are Fukushima people. They have mapped over 13 million data points since the disaster, and they are constantly analyzing radiation data in Fukushima Prefecture. Incidentally, if you want to do something positive to help the situation, I strongly recommend donating to Safecast...
(6 January 2014)


What You Should and Shouldn’t Worry about after the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdowns

David Biello, Scientific American
The old saying goes where there's smoke, there's fire, but steam is a different story, even in the case of a nuclear power plant that suffered multiple meltdowns. Despite fresh worries about a new meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan, the steam that set off this concern is merely a result of atmospheric conditions—and a reactor that is still hot from having melted down in 2011.

Think of it as seeing your breath in cold weather. The damaged reactors at Fukushima are still hot, nearly three years after the disaster, thanks to the ongoing radioactive decay of the damaged nuclear fuel. This is why used nuclear fuel sits in cooling pools of waters for years after time spent fissioning in a reactor. The radioactive detritus at Fukushima is still throwing off roughly one million watts worth of heat, according to Fairewinds Energy, a nuclear safety advocacy group based in Burlington, Vt. That heat turns water into steam—and when the air is cold enough, as it is in winter in Japan, that steam is visible. "This also happened last year at this time, and periodically since the tsunami in 2011," notes David McIntyre, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). "We are in touch with the Japanese regulator and TEPCO [the utility responsible for Fukushima], and from what we've seen and heard there is no reason to suspect that this steam is an indicator of anything bad happening."...
(9 January 2014)


West Coast Radiation Exposure: What are the risks?

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education

West Coast Radiation Exposure: What are the risks? from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

Fairewinds Energy Education’s Arnie Gundersen discusses the risk to the US West Coast population from the ongoing releases from Fukushima Daiichi. Should we be worried about walking by or swimming in the Pacific? How safe are California’s beaches? What about eating Pacific seafood?
(8 January 2014)


All The Best, Scientifically Verified, Information on Fukushima Impacts

Craig McClain, Deep Sea News
With all the misinformation around the internet here are links to articles that we trust. The following provide credible information about what is actually occurring and/or dispel myths about Fukushima radiation that are prevalent on the internet. I will not link to pseudoscience, misinformation, or outright lies in this post or allow them in the comments below. These posts and ideas have received far more attention and links than they deserve already. I provide the author, their credentials, a statement of the misinformation if applicable, the take home message, and my favorite quotes.

My favorite magazine growing up, Popular Mechanics, has a very nice write up about understanding radiation counts from radiation safety expert Andrew Karam. Andrew Karam has over 30 years of experience in health physics (radiation safety), beginning with an eight-year stint as a mechanical operator and radiation safety specialist in the Navy. Since then, Karam has worked for the State of Ohio, Ohio State University, the University of Rochester and as a private consultant. Favorite Quote: “In the areas of Japan I visited, radiation dose rates were elevated to about three to four times typical natural radiation dose rates (which are about .1 mrem per hour), but nowhere near as high as natural radiation levels I’ve measured in parts of Iran.”

Is the west coast being fried by Fukushima radiation? Dr. Andrew Thaler, a marine biologist and chief editor of Southern Fried Science, totally dismantles Michael Snyder’s Activist post 28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima. Take Home: No and the Snyder article distorts the truth and outright lies to advocate for his position. Favorite Quote: “The article is a paranoid, poorly reasoned attempt to link the tragedy of the Fukushima disaster to just about every environmental issue facing the US west coast in the last few months.”...[Includes 10 further points]
(8 January 2014)

Editorial Notes: About Dan Sythe: Dan was introduced to Geiger Counters by his Father at an early age. He has been using Geiger Counters for for well over fifty years, and began designing them almost 40 years ago. His instruments have been utilized for protecting human health and for safety – in science, industry, education, security, nuclear arms control, medicine – and by journalists, citizen activists, advocacy organizations, hobbyists, safety enthusiasts and curious people throughout the world.

Dan is currently CEO and Chairman of IMI – International Medcom, a company he co-founded in 1986. Previously he was Senior Electronic Design Engineer at Astec/BSR, a Consultant for Silicon Valley tech companies, and a Founder and Director of Instrument Research and Development at SE International. Dan has also, with his talented team, designed a transport incubator for neonates, developed doppler fetal pulse detectors and a built a system for webcasting the live songs of Hawaiʻiʻs Humpback Whales.

About David Biello: David Biello has been covering energy and the environment for nearly a decade, the last four years as an associate editor at Scientific American. He also hosts 60-Second Earth, a Scientific American podcast covering environmental news, and is working on a documentary with Detroit Public Television on the future of electricity.

About Arnie Gunderson: Arnie Gundersen has more than 40-years of nuclear power engineering experience. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he earned his Bachelor Degree cum laude while also becoming the recipient of a prestigious Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship for his Master Degree in nuclear engineering. Arnie holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US.

About Craig McClain: Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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