Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Chernobyl? Not Quite!

Since the earthquake and tsumani in north-eastern Japan, students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT) have been maintaining a weblog at http://mitnse.com for "information about the incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants." The purpose of the MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub is
not to provide up-to-date information about the ongoing situation at the nuclear facilities in Fukushima, Japan, nor is it to promote to a pro-nuclear political agenda. Rather, we are trying to provide non-sensationalized, factual data from engineers in a manner that the general public can understand. We are fighting to decipher conflicting news reports and manage the frustrating lack of clarity to provide this information.
The key is "non-sensationalized, factual data" at a time when the various broadcast (or "narrowcast") news media seem to specialize in sensationalizing serious matters.

Here's their take on today's news reports:
New Provisional INES Rating + A Chernobyl Primer
Posted on April 12, 2011 3:32 pm UTC by mitnse

Today the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency revised its INES rating of the Fukushima Daiichi event. The previous assessment treated the events at each of the ailing reactors as separate: the core damage to units 1-3 resulted in an assignment of a 5 (accident with wider consequences) for each reactor; the problems at unit 4′s spent fuel pool were assigned a 3 (serious incident). NISA is now treating the situation as a single event, assigned a rating of 7 (major accident). This rating is still being assessed as information about the disposition of radioactive materials originating at the reactor site comes in.

Because the rating is now the same as that assigned to the Chernobyl accident, the blog has received a number of questions about how the events at Fukushima differ from it. We present a sequence of events at Chernobyl, along with links to some denser technical matter for interested readers, and an IAEA report on the human costs of the disaster. For comparison, it’s been estimated that the radiation released by the Fukushima reactors is 1/10th that released to the environment at Chernobyl.
The rest of the post describes what really happened at Chernobyl, the worst nuclear accident in history.

But catch that closer: "it’s been estimated that the radiation released by the Fukushima reactors is 1/10th that released to the environment at Chernobyl." This is no Chernobyl. The sensation of Fukushima Daiichi is just how safe nuclear power is.

1 comment:

Lutheran Desert Rat said...

Yeah, I don't like to over react to things, either; however, I must admit that I would be a bit more comfortable if the Byron cooling towers and the plant that goes with it were not there.