What Do All These Radiation Numbers Mean?

What Do All These Radiation Numbers Mean?

The Wall Street Journal posted a graphic that I found helpful in understanding a barrage of confusing radiation-level reports over the last five days. If I'm understanding this correctly, everything before Tuesday morning was small potatoes, even onsite, let alone in the surrounding area. Tuesday morning things got more serious, though still far from deadly, and certainly not in the same league as Chernobyl.

It remains a hard story to follow. The MSM reports are alarming, but if you try to run down the details it generally turns out they didn't understand the words they were quoting. In those circumstances, just a little bit of paraphrasing can take all the meaning out of story, even if you set aside the massive agenda being injected. On the other hand, the consequences of failed cooling systems are anything but minor, and it remains to be seen whether the many varieties of backup cooling are keeping up with the problem. As I understand it, as long as the containment vessel holds, things can't get too bad, and no containment vessel has ever breached. On the other hand, the vessel isn't built to withstand the heat and pressure of a complete loss of coolant and consequent buildup of steam, hydrogen, etc. So they can't afford simply to evacuate and hope for the best. So far, they have only temporarily withdrawn workers to shelter and then sent them back in. God bless all the brave workers, who presumably have a far better grasp of the dangers than I do. They are having to do this against the backdrop of a shattered region and homeland, without time to mourn their losses.

The red lines are recorded levels at Fukushima Dai'ichi. The blue lines are for comparison. As this is a little blurry, you might prefer the original at the WSJ.


From a commenter on the long-running WSJ piece "Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl":

I only found this out recently. (Of course. Why would any power source other than nuclear make the news?)

As a result of the earthquake, a dam failed, washing away 1800 homes downstream. Of those 1800 homes, it's very likely many were inhabited, and many people died. (I don't know if the dam produced electricity or was used for other purposes. I don't think it matters to the victims however.)

So, while the world worries about what WILL happen with the nuclear power plants, almost utterly unreported is that a dam ALREADY failed in a way that puts it on par with Chernobyl.

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