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Comment Re:Radon (Score 2) 536

Cesium has a biological half life of one to four months. Removing yourself from the source of exposure, or diversifying your source of food to include produce from out of the affected area can almost completely eliminate internal contamination.

Certainly bio-accumulation is going to be a concern, especially after what we saw in Chernobyl. But unlike the Soviet disaster, most people in Japan don't acquire their food stuffs solely from local farms, and the contamination outside of Fukushima prefecture is almost nothing.

I live in one of the most contaminated areas outside of Fukushima, and the majority of food samples are testing free of cesium. Here are the testing results for August 2012; nothing detected. Here are the testing results for August of last year; only blueberries show cesium contamination at 44.6 bq/kg. Landlocked, fresh-water fish in my area have shown the most contamination, and as a result, they have been prohibited from consumption. Also, my family can avoid produce from Fukushima and Ibaraki prefecture as we live in a first-world nation with access to lots of alternatives.

The people living to the N/NW of Fukushima Daiichi (like in Iitatemura) got screwed the most because of government incompetence and lying. Most of those areas with the highest levels of contamination, including the more dangerous alpha emitters, are now in the exclusion zone, which means that farming is prohibited there. As for actual urine tests, the most cesium tested in a child was 17.5 becquerels per liter with the average being 2.2: Urine Tests These are levels are similar to when nuclear testing was being performed in the 60s.

This was a disaster of epic proportions, but we dodged a huge bullet. Most of the massive amount of radiation was blown out to sea, and even in areas like mine where contamination is high, it's now on par with cities like Hong Kong. In fact, the hospital by my house did a glass badge test for children in the area to test for yearly exposure levels, and not one child tested over an additional 1mSv/year.

Comment Re:I'm not going to panic just yet... (Score 1) 411

Sorry, that's wrong.


Here he is telling the interviewer saying that the amount of radiation released was comparable to Chernobyl -- after the fact. He's also talking about the biorobots (people) at Chernobyl who were exposed to incredible amounts of radiation in minutes as though we could possibly see that at Fukushima, despite the fact that the Soviets received WELL above the maximum allowed dose in Japan (250 millisieverts).

He does say this could be worse than Chernobyl (as in possibility), but he exaggerates so much, and uses so much hyperbole, that it's hard to tell what he considers a valid possibility and what he's just emphasizing to scare the interviewer.

You're right that in the absolute worst case scenario -- including a massive Magnitude 8+ earthquake and the complete collapse of the reactor 4 building -- there is a possibility that we might get more radiation releases (although, even that is debated by scientists), but the impetus is on Kaku to back up what he's saying. If he is borderline lying with Fukushima, why in the world should he be considered a reliable source for anything else?

Comment Re:I'm not going to panic just yet... (Score 1) 411

Michio Kaku is the same 'doctor' who said that the meltdowns at Fukushima were worse than the explosion at Chernobyl, and that it's still a ticking time bomb.

He's a total crackpot. So while I have no idea about whether or not the level of solar activity is higher in 2012, you need to provide much better sources than this guy.

Comment Re:Hysterical hyperbole. (Score 2) 134

You kind of missed the point of this whole review, didn't you?

As someone who lives in Japan, and in fact in one of the more radioactively contaminated areas outside Fukushima (which isn't that bad), I sure as hell want them to figure out what went wrong and fix it. They called it a man-made error, which in and of itself is an important step in saying that the whole system from the ground up needs to be revised. They even use the word colluded to describe the relationship between the NISA and TEPCO. These are the kinds of issues that can and should be addressed.

As for the power plants themselves, TEPCO all the other energy companies were given a free ride for years, avoiding having to make any upgrades or adjustments to safety regulations. Does that sound like the kind of nuclear industry you want running your power plants? The report even says that if the Japanese nuclear officials had improved the plants in line with the US standards adopted in the 9/11 report, they could have potentially survived these disasters without problem.

Finally, the kinds of flood and tsunami protections you are talking about WERE in place. They were completely overwhelmed, and there is no amount of further prevention other than living away from the ocean that would have saved lives. The Guiness World Record holder for the largest wave breaker was in Kamaishi, and that massive wall was cut in two by the ocean.

So maybe before going on a rant, you might actually read the report and see how important it is for fixing the corruption that has ruled the power industry monopolies for years.

Comment Re:Scientific philanthropy in Japan ? (Score 1) 107

The IWC has shown no inclination of returning to a new sustainable whaling system.

Let's look at the facts:

1) In 1991 the IWC's own scientific commission stated that 2000 Minke whales could be harvested per year without endangering the population. Despite this, however, the moratorium continued.

2) Based on the evidence by the scientific commission, the IWC adopted a revised management procedure (RMP) in 1994 for determining which whales could be harvested. Again, the moratorium was not lifted. Instead, it was decided that a revised management scheme (RMS) would be needed to create a basic standard for scientific data. Also, in 1993 the head of the Scientific Committee resigned because he said that the data provided was being ignored.

So it has been 18 years since 1994, but where do we stand? That's a long time, so maybe we've made some progress towards sustainable whaling? Absolutely not:

1) The Southern Ocean whale sanctuary was created in 1994. This banned all types of commercial whaling around Antarctica, despite the IWC's scientific committee saying that Northern Atlantic and Southern Minke whales were not endangered and could be harvested. This sanctuary was called a thinly veiled attempt at circumventing the scientific data provided by the IWC.

2) Australia has stated that it has no interest in participating in the development of the RMS or the RMP. They continue to claim that the Southern Ocean sanctuary is valid and that it is illegal to whale there. They have even gone as far as trying to repeal Japan's ability to harvest whales for research purposes.

3) Leaked cables between the US and Australia have shown that both countries wanted to greatly restrict how many whales Japan could harvest as part of it's research program.

The only positive news towards an actual sustainable whaling program is that in 2010 New Zealand and the US said they would possibly enter talks to overturn the ban of whaling if Japan considerably reduced its research harvest quota. Those talks failed.

So Here we are, 26 years since the moratorium started, with the scientific recommendation of the IWC to allow controlled whaling of at least Minke whales, and nothing has happened. Additionally, Obama has gone as far as censuring Iceland for continuing its commercial whaling.

So I'll ask - absolutely what evidence do you have that shows there has been a proactive towards developing sustainable whaling? We've already gone a quarter of a century with no progress, despite actual scientific evidence showing that sustainable whaling could have resumed in *controlled* numbers - exactly what Japan has been doing all these years.

Comment Re:Scientific philanthropy in Japan ? (Score 1) 107

This is ridiculous logic. It's limited to Japan because Japan is one of the few countries that wanted to continue whaling and still decided to remain in the IWC. The other whaling countries saw the direction the commission was headed and refused to join up.

I have not once heard any of the anti-whaling countries tell Japan, "Look, stop taking advantage of the loopholes so we can figure out a system of sustainable whaling for all countries. " The focus is entirely on figuring out how to stop Japan from whaling so whaling can come to an end.

If there was even the smallest amount of honesty involved in developing a valid plan for sustainable whaling, it would be much harder for Japan to ignore it, and criticisms against the country would be much more valid. As it stands though, there are certain species of whales that are not endangered, and there is no reason to not allow sustainable whaling of them. This simply just had never been offered as an option by anti-whaling countries.

Comment Re:Scientific philanthropy in Japan ? (Score 3, Insightful) 107

Their current whaling program is sustainable, and the rules they abide by are set up by the IWC. Isn't that exactly what you are arguing for? Sustainable whaling? I'm not sure how you can jump from that position to then calling Japan 'fucking selfish'.

The problem is that non-whaling countries absolutely do want to see whaling come to a permanent end. Sustainable whaling was never going to be on the bargaining table, and as a result Japan has to take advantage of loopholes to continue its whaling program.

So which is it? Sustainable whaling for all countries, or not?

Comment Re:Dunno (Score 1) 267

NHK was an interesting case. I was watching NHK most of the time in the beginning as they always had the most up-to-date news, but I think the station's biggest failing was that it was trying too hard to stay calm according to policy. It certainly helped a lot of us keep our heads on when things were really scary, but it also had the detrimental effect of making viewers complacent, when (as we would learn later) things were way worse than they seemed. People closer to the plant should have been evacuated almost immediately, but since they were getting news primarily from NHK, they would probably have been less apt to leave the area.

At the same time, I never really believed that they were in the pocket of TEPCO - they just toed the official line of communication way too closely even when the government was in preemptive damage control mode.

I'm not really sure about the newspapers, to be honest. I got most of my news via Internet and TV, but one of my favorite news programs through all of this has been Houdou Station on TV Asahi. Furutachi has been massively critical of TEPCO and the government since day one, and the show has done some great reporting, especially on the radiation contamination.

Speaking of which, Houdou Station will be airing a 2-hour special on the 28th (9pm-11:10pm) covering the first 5 days of the disaster. I doubt it will tell us anything we didn't already know, but it should be worth watching.

Comment Re:Dunno (Score 5, Interesting) 267

A couple of clarifications:

The reason for the poor handling of the situation is as you mention, an over-reliance on contract workers, but also because of a complete lack of preparation and training by those involved. The officials at TEPCO never prepared for a worst-case scenario, because they wanted to cut costs, and they stupidly believed that the worst-case scenario was impossible. Two points make this painfully obvious: 1) they didn't think a complete loss of power was even in the realm of possibility (despite only having two backup generators, both located below ground), and 2) they didn't even have instructions in their manuals for manually venting the RPV. NISA, despite being in charge of nuclear safety and TEPCO, were watching network TV to find out the details of the problem -- i.e. a huge transparency problem.

Also, the TEPCO as we knew it, and as you mentioned it, is finished. Most likely the company will be nationalized sometime next year, and although the same pieces of shit that got us in this situation will most likely keep their jobs, their influence over Japanese people is pretty much at an end. The media has regularly covered their incompetence and negligence since the March explosions, and even NHK has pretty solidly shown how criminal their actions were. Will anyone get put in jail? Probably not. But the TEPCO CEO has already been forced to quit, and TEPCO stocks will be in shambles for decades. In this sense, you could probably draw parallels to the clusterfuck that was BP and the Gulf oil spill. But again, it must be emphasized that no one seems concerned about TEPCO's influence on network TV at all anymore because there is a massive amount of anger directed at the company.

In terms of power consumption, there is already talk of allowing non-centralized power companies to start operating, and hopefully this is something we'll see in the next 10 years or so. I have a feeling that the government will want to keep people tied to TEPCO mostly because there will be billions paid out in compensation to victims of the disaster, and they can't afford to pay for everything. There will be a shift away from nuclear power, though. The general consensus is that most people don't have the stomach for it anymore, and based on many reports on TV, it's clear that Japan was essentially forced into using nuclear power in the first place. We will probably see more power sourced from LNG in the near future, and there are plans to build a plant of this type in Tokyo soon.

I'm not disagreeing with you at all, I just think that some of your information is a bit out of date. TEPCO is in ruins right now, and since we'll be dealing with radiation cleanup for decades, its negligence won't be so easily forgotten.

I know you mentioned that NHK is in the pocket of the government, and they are, but NHK has produced some of the best documentaries on the disaster, so I highly recommend checking them out if you haven't done so (sadly, I can only find links to English dubbed versions):

NHK Japan's Nuclear Crisis More video links

Comment Mixing English and Japanese (Score 1) 692

I hope Siri is better at mixing Japanese and English than Google's voice actions. I often try to navigate to stations with names like Hamamatsuchou Station, and the Japanese word never fails to come out as a garbled mess. This failing is even more apparent when you try to utilize my contact list full of Japanese names.

My wife's name always comes out as something like, "Yeah yeah."

Comment Re:Damage comparison... (Score 1) 244

Again, that's absolutely not correct. No one has died of radiation in Fukushima, and the maximum legal limit for radiation exposure is currently set at 250 millisieverts. That was raised from 100 millisieverts so they could deal with this situation. The 2 guys that stepped in the radioactive water were exposed to around 170 millisieverts of radiation.

And there are no Fukushima 50. There never were. Currently there are around 1000 people working on fixing the plant. The only thing that comes close to the 50 number is the number of people who were on a specific work shift.

Comment Re:Nuclear economics (Score 2) 342

I think most people would agree that if there is a better, cleaner solution for power generation than nuclear, then we should use it.

But from where I sit in Japan, experiencing rolling blackouts, darkened train stations, closed shops, and missing food items, that source of electricity absolutely needs to replace the millions of kilowatts that it takes to run an operate a modern society currently provided by nuclear energy. The whole of eastern Japan is in conservation mode and yet they are still telling us we will be roughly 20% short to meet typical summer consumption. Tokyo, as I'm sure any city would be, is a greatly changed place without electricity.

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