Fukushima Had Less Radiation Outside the Plant than Kerela Background Radiation Levels

Nextbigfuture has written a lot about energy safety with dozens of articles about the deaths per terawatt hour. This statistic shows the actual danger of energy against the amount of energy produced by the energy source.

The fossil fuels and burning of ethanol or wood all produce particulates in the 10 micron to 2.5 micron sizes. Those particulates along with smog are closely correlated with lung disease, cancer, heart disease and increased hospitalizations and deaths. The effects are often fairly immediate. Bad air days increase the amount of hospitalizations on those days. This is because everyone breathes and air pollution goes everywhere in a large region. This means babies and the elderly and those with asthma or other lung problems are all exposed.

In cities in China and India, air pollution is very bad and is like forcing everyone to 6 cigarettes to a pack of cigarettes every day.

This is one of the main reasons the estimate of deaths from outdoor air pollution is about 4.2 million people per year. Deaths from indoor air pollution is about 3 million people per year. The amount of air pollution from energy generation sources varies. Coal plants and natural gas plants do produce a lot of electricity and a lot of air pollution. There is also air pollution from trucks, cars, motorcycles and small engine devices and vehicles.

Chernobyl and Fukushima

The World Health Organization had estimates of 4000 to 9000 deaths related to radiation from Chernobyl.

Among 134 first responders, about 47 have died from acute radiation exposure.

Dozens of cleanup workers at the plant were exposed to radiation levels as high as 8,000 to 16,000 mSv (millisieverts). About 30% of them have died. Doses of 200 to 1,000 mSv can cause a temporary drop in white blood cell count and serious radiation sickness sets in at about 2,000 mSv. Kerala, India has a background level of 70 milliSieverts per year all the time. The millions of people who live there do not have higher incidents of cancer.

A Japanese assessment counts possibly 351 additional deaths from thyroid cancer in Belarus from 1987-2000.

Belerus had one-third of the thyroid cancer cases. About 1% of the people who get thyroid cancer die.

This would put the death toll so far at about 1100. Although, one would expect a total deaths from thyroid cancer at about 250 from 20,000 cases of thyroid cancer.

A UN report from 2017 has long term tracking that 25-60% of the thyroid cancer cases could be attributable to Chernobyl.

Fukushima had 1600 deaths from evacuation of old, hospitalized people. Some people were evacuated for the tsunami and earthquake which killed about 16,000 people.

It takes time for higher levels of radiation to kill people. Most of the old people should not have been evacuated. Analyzing Chernoble which had far higher radiation levels than Fukushima. Men in the Chernobyl affected areas were ten times less likely to develop thyroid cancer or die from thyroid cancer. Older men should be the ones to handle higher levels of radiation situation.

Background Radiation

The World Heath Organization had estimated that the deaths from radiation from Fukushima ranges from 0 to 400. I discount the 400 assessment because the Fukushima level of radiation to the people beyond the plant reached about 170% of the background radiation of Denver, Colorado. The level of radiation was one-third the level of background radiation of Kerela. Kerala is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. 33 million people live in Kerela. Kerela residents do not have higher levels of cancer than other places in India. Denver does not have higher levels of cancer than other places in the US with lower levels of background radiation. Most of the Denver radiation is from Radon gas. Kerela has sand with thorium.

The Japanese have set the maximum annual radiation level at 20 milliSieverts per year around Fukushima while some parts of Kerala have had a level of 70 milliSieverts per year all the time.

The cancer incidence rate overall in Kerala is much the same as the overall rate in India; which is about 1/2 that of Japan and less than 1/3rd of the rate in Australia. Some 95 new cancers per 100,000 people per year compared to 323 per 100,000 per year in Australia (age standardized).

The best available evidence is that an annual exposure to 100 milliSieverts results in an actual dose of zero because it is below a person’s capacity for perfect repair.

The 0.06 milliSieverts around Fukushima would take 6 months to reach one CT scan (10 millisieverts). It is generally a lot of radiation all at once that overwhelms the bodies repair systems.

SOURCES – UNSCEAR, World Health Organization, Harvard, Brave New Climate, Our World in Data, Kyoto University.
Written By Brian Wang

67 thoughts on “Fukushima Had Less Radiation Outside the Plant than Kerela Background Radiation Levels”

  1. Crunch some numbers. You can make methanol using biomass, solar, wind and geo power. The method used should be the cheapest. But with the cost of batteries falling so fast you might be able to bypass the need for a liquid fuel.

  2. I think you exaggerate their wealth and fame. Most politicians are quickly forgotten once they are done. As for their wealth many a small business owner does much better.

  3. As I said above, feel free to quibble with the numbers I chose, although the actual areas are based on a fairly careful reading of the maps and the guidelines that the Soviets and Japanese used for evacuation. But it’s not an “extrapolation” that people who owned real estate downwind from nuclear accidents lost the use of their properties and therefore suffered economic damage.

    Note that this has nothing to do with their health. People that were evacuated likely got tiny doses of radiation. But a lot of them won’t be returning to their homes at all, and those who can likely have much less equity in them than they did before the accident. No doubt they’ll be compensated for their losses. Somebody is paying for that compensation.

  4. What you are repeating is something of a myth.
    As you know, we breath piles of dust over our lifetime, but the inside of the lungs are clean.
    Particles small enough to pass pericellularly through the epithelium and into the blood are the issue. Other insoluble particles just end up in the alimentary canal and are eliminated.
    Separate issue, Cs just doesn’t bioaccumulate. Rather it is actively excreted.
    –That makes me think the external dose is what matters–residence time is too short.

  5. It is illegal to build nuclear in my state, and in some countries. There are innumerable NGOs that are antinuclear, and they get politicians and regulators to do antinuclear stuff. Results: Indian Point, SONGS, Vermont Yankee, Germany, Italy…
    This scares away capital investment.

  6. Thank you for a clear headed attempt to estimate this externality.
    I do think however most of this cost is pure masochism–consistent with Brian’s argument above.
    If you count the bodies, excess thyroid cancer mortality is 15 persons over 25 years. Apart from that it is extrapolation.

  7. Am I supposed to respond to your professional opinion on atomicinsights regarding Lightbridge? Rod screens the posts, so it’s not like I can explain why you’re wrong all day up there…

  8. You don’t have to melt much of them to start loss of habitable land, and once started, it is possibly impossible to stop. The base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is well below sea level, so once warmer ocean water gets access under it, there’s nothing to stop the melt. The science is complicated, but last time CO2 levels were 400ppm, sea levels were 15-20 metres higher than now, and beech trees were growing 300 km from the south pole. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/12112019/antarctica-ice-shelf-melt-atmospheric-river-thwaites-glacier-ocean-sea-level-rise

  9. One quibble: No alpha emissions from Cs-137, but a very nasty gamma emission following the most common beta decay mode. Encapsulation doesn’t do anything for that.

    Mostly, encapsulation makes cesium not soluble, which means that it gets eliminated from the digestive tract. But if you get a particle lodged deep in the lungs, it’s fairly bad news.

  10. While I do think there are some hidden costs, I’m fanatically pro-nuclear as well. There are only a few technologies that can cheaply defray the cost of whatever it is you have to add to your renewables portfolio to make it sufficiently reliable, and nukes are currently by far the cheapest solution–if the general public wasn’t so recto-cranially inverted on the topic.

    I think molten salt, with or without a thorium breeder cycle, is modestly interesting, but they’re both at about the same level of technology readiness as fusion, which is frankly more interesting.

    And the waste disposal problems are purely an artifact of breathless scare-mongering and ruthless BANANAism. The waste stream that comes out of our fleet of nukes is tiny, easily stored on-site for the time being, and almost trivially stored if we’d just open a repository. It would remain tiny even if we increase our nuclear capacity a hundredfold. This is not a hard technical problem.

    Finally, the ultimate solution to a lot of the GHG-created environmental problems is likely to be an indiscriminate use of energy that’s almost too cheap to meter. Renewables are not that source of energy. Some radical advance with fusion, geographically-independent geothermal, or space-based solar power are candidates, but the one we have working today is Gen III+ nukes, and soon the simpler versions of Gen IV’s.

    So yes, by all means let’s enumerate all the hidden costs. But then let’s do the math and fix the problem.

  11. Radical Moderate, you deserve far more than 2 current likes (including mine) for this post. This is excellent work yet it still does not account for all the hidden costs of nuclear I suspect. There is a certain Wang flavored cool-aid that people like to drink on this site that is fanatically pro-nuke w/o fully considering the ramifications of large-scale adoption of nuclear power using current technology. I am very excited to see the thorium cycle and molten salt reactor technology progress. Molten salt or liquid-type reactors appear to nicely burn up fuel so that there is not a lot of long-lived radioactive waste generated. Radioactive waste disposal is already a bit of a problem with our limited use of nukes, it will become a major problem if we get widespread adoption of nuclear using current tech.

  12. ‘What about 60%? 20% nuclear (already built), 7% hydro, 13% carbon capture Allam cycle, 60% wind and solar.’
    That’s only electricity. To stabilise the climate the other 62% of fossil fuel use will have to be replaced as well, or the emissions sequestered.
    The larger the proportion of unreliable energy, the harder it will be to work round it. Solar is less than 10% of any national grid, and wind only hits high figures in Denmark because they’re just a midget between the German and Scandivnavian grids.
    CO2 from the Allam cycle won’t be worth much if enhanced oil recovery isn’t happening. That supercritical CO2 turbine would be a good match for a high temperature reactor, though – run hot salt or sodium through a printed circuit heat exchanger, and you’d have a much cleaner source of S-CO2 than from combustion.

  13. They get paid fairly well, and then get very well compensated indeed once they retire and get cushy jobs.
    They get fame and the adoration of millions.
    They get social status equivalent to movie stars or minor royalty.
    They get all this out of the taxpayers purse.
    And you think THEY are the retarded ones?

  14. There were hotspots as of 2015 (mostly cesium).
    Luckily two big things – 78% of the cesium ended up inside of glassy particles due to the melty slag ending mixing with concrete, which was actually enough to prevent it from being really bad for you if you inhale it or ingest it (the glass blocks the betas and alphas). And then most of the original radiation release blew out to sea due to favorable wind conditions. It could have of course gone much worse.
    Of that 22% soluble cesium-137 (and other hot particles), yes there are hotspots in places like roof gutters, downspouts, places that tend to accumulate puddles and then evaporate. 200-500x normal background of 2.1 mSv in 2015. Have those been cleaned up since (or at least cooled off some with the 30 year half life). Very probably with the amount of money spent so far?
    Youtube videos from 2017 and after don’t show any hotspots like that. And 2017 is when lots of people moved back. I think as of 2017 Fukushima is clean.


  15. What you’re saying is left wing anti nuke types are unscrupulous liars who will say anything in opposition to nukes.

  16. The Xenon, from what little I know, acts via the physical properties, not a chemical reaction.

    So being noble (just about zero chemical reactions) doesn’t stop it having physical properties.

  17. They’ve got about 1400 km^2 of land with >10 Ci/km^2 of Cs-137. That’s a lot of gamma radiation lounging about.

    Maybe a frisker and some lead-lined walls?

  18. Enormous land use, really? I live in the bay area and close (Santa Clara county land but basically rural) goes for as low as $30,000 per hectare.
    50% coverage is 100MW per square km. That’s $100 million for the solar project, $3 million for the land.
    Yeah….no. Land use is not a problem.

  19. I think you’re doomed to fail If the linchpin of your strategy is to convince the general public that nuclear fallout from the occasional accident isn’t all that bad.
    Besides, except for a few locals, no one is stopping anyone from covering the countryside in nuclear reactors. All that is stopping that is a limitless checking account.

  20. Rationalism won’t prevail, of course, but even I wouldn’t want to live on land that had much above 5 Ci/km^2 of Cs-137, especially if I had kids. (They eat dirt!) The Japanese restricted residency above 20 mSv/yr, and above 50 mSv/yr, land was categorized as “difficult to return”, and totally evacuated. I’m inferring from the various maps that the 50 mSv/yr works out to about 10 Ci/km^2 (aka 370 kBq/m^2).

    (BTW: Does anybody know how to convert raw Cs-137 counts to Sieverts? I realize that you need the full spectrum of radioisotopes, and detailed assumptions about ingestion pathways to do this for real, but it seems as if there ought to be a quick rule of thumb. Is there one?)

    I believe that the Gen 3+/IV plants are likely at least 100x safer than past history, but it’s really, really hard to prove, especially in an environment where the yahoos are mindlessly terrified. My point here is that even if you convince everybody that they’re not gonna die in an accident (and they’re not), the next hill to climb is on property damage, which is a huge deal.

    Wind and solar don’t take up as much land as you think, because it’s usually dual-use. Wind turbines already are highly compatible with farmland, but it turns out that there’s a lot of recent work on crops grown in with solar actuators. Turns out that they still get a lot of sun and the partial shade helps enormously with water consumption.

  21. You just lost a nuclear power plant. Replacement cost in the States and Europe is $10B per G. And we ain’t even talking about the political fall out.

    And price for renewable and storage falls every year.

  22. That 0.5 ct/kWh added to a cost that is already higher than renewable. Building a new nuclear power plant is risky financially especially the first couple in a country that hasn’t built any in decades. Renewable are cookie stamped.

    This is the one way many new nuclear power plants get built in the US. Almost everyone accept climate change is real and 100% renewable has proven not to be workable. Then and only then will we start building lots of nuclear power plants.

  23. 100% renewables is pretty much a strawman, though.
    What about 60%? 20% nuclear (already built), 7% hydro, 13% carbon capture Allam cycle, 60% wind and solar. You vastly inflate the amount of storage required if you go to 100% wind and solar.
    You start with intraday storage, expand to intraweek using pumped hydro and/or flow batteries (store extra from low demand weekends). You overbuild solar and wind because they’re so cheap and throw 25% of it away on average. You leave spare capacity in your Allam cycle plants.
    This scenario is exactly where the power grids worldwide are headed if they de-carbonize for the lowest price.
    Japan could certainly save a lot of money by going back to 20% nuclear (they were about a third nuclear before Fukushima, but some of the plants will never restart). Replacing missing nuclear with Allam cycle plants isn’t that expensive, though.

    Allam cycle info:


    The next phase 300MW demonstrator (vs. the 50MW existing) should get a better handle on a realistic capital cost learning curve. Runs on gasified coal or natural gas.

  24. As if it is possible for people to react rationally to a nuclear accident. People reaction to risk is irrational. People smoke.

  25. Really! Hind sight is 20/20. No one knew how far the radioactive plume spread. Complete shutdown was mostly political. But there were legitimate concerns that the operators of nuclear power plants were slack. There needed to be an audit of the nuclear power plants and deficiencies needed to be fixed.Some times people get upset over political solution forgetting that people vote and politicians pass laws. Kicking the can a few years down the road until people cool down is a good idea.

    As for German, they aren’t stupid but they can be quite stubborn. Once they get an idea in their head it is stuck. It will take a lot of pain for them to change their minds.

  26. God damn laughed so hard that coffee nearly went out my nose…

    I have spun out a 2003 911 AND a classic Beetle (non-public land/roads so nobody worry) both so I know exactly what you’re talking about.

  27. If the witch doctor condemns my home due to it being occupied by invisible bad luck demons caused by a nuclear disaster, I’m still going to sue the nuclear power plant operators/owners because I’m out a house (or with a house significantly devalued).

    Even if I don’t believe in invisible bad luck demons.

  28. Fair enough – insurance costs that high would cause consequent increases in safety margins. That’s another argument in favor of a global nuclear insurance pool.

    And when an uninsured/rejected plant melts down, hopefully it wouldn’t impugn the reputation of the rest.

  29. I’m assuming that we have to decarbonize, so your question is irrelevant. The question is what gives the the lowest fully-burdened grid LCOE. I’m extremely skeptical that it’s all renewables, but if it’s renewables and nukes, then you have to factor in this cost.

    In 2018, US nukes generated 807 TWh at an average generation cost of $32/MWh. That’s $25.8B in total generation costs. Adding $1.7B to that would increase costs by 6.6%. That’s not terrible…

    But it’s not the whole story. What we’re really looking at is an insurance cost. The Price-Anderson Act requires the industry as a whole to carry about $12B of insurance. Part of that is held in an industry-wide pool, and part of it is handled through premium payments for $375M of insurance for each reactor. No clue what the annual premium is for $375M of coverage, but it’s sure a lot less than $1.7B. Beyond that $12B, the feds step in and pay the balance.

    If you believe my number (and you should be skeptical of it), then the total cost of just the property damage for the entire span of nuclear power is about $100B. But we know that the Japanese government is estimating that Fukushima alone will probably come in at about $200B, so either there’s a huge amount of mitigation costs (which I’m not modeling) or my numbers are conservative.

    Either way, there’s a huge externality lurking out there. It’s not as big as the carbon externality, but it certainly isn’t showing up in the nuke LCOE.

  30. The costs you are refering to are not the costs of the meltdown; they are the cost of having retarded politicians.

  31. No you are delusional to be comparing RBMK reactors to modern reactors that are designed to be safe.

    Go back and watch the last episode of Chernobyl. Western reactors slow down the reaction when water is present. Western reactors have containment domes, etc.

  32. Indeed, if only they banned the dairy produce from the regions affected for a few months, that alone would be a huge factor reduction in the thyroid case numbers.

    Still, it is only about 40-50 excess deaths or so from thyroid cancer. Air pollution (ironically mostly from fossil fuels and biomass) kills about 7 million a year – a Chernobyl worth of thyroid related excess deaths every 5 minutes or so.

    More people have died from the fossil fuel emissions caused by the Internet servers having to process datastreams from clueless people raving about Chernobyl radiation deaths, than Chernobyl radiation deaths have caused.

  33. If rationalism prevails, we would not be evacuating perfectly good land because of small doses of chronic radiation. Your numbers bear that out.

    Of course with Gen 3+ and Gen IV reactors we will not be needing any more evacuations, realistically. So it doesn’t bear on the decision to build such modern nuclear plants. Anymore than the Hindenburg dirigible accident bears on the safety of modern commercial wide-bodied jet powered aircraft. Seriously, if I were to show a Soviet solar power installation that failed and brought that up as an argument against solar power, commenters would be jumping all over me to tell me how moronic that is. So why do the anti-nuclear folks bring up Chernobyl as an argument against modern nuclear plants?

    However, it would be interesting to see how wind and solar compare, given their enormous land use requirement. And don’t forget about additional power infrastructure and energy storage land use here.

  34. The cost of the meltdown is primarily artificial, most costs are unnecessary, mainly a result of radiophobia, overstringent regs and so on.

    Still, that cost is a fraction of the cost of a renewable energy storage system large and reliable enough to power Japan with wind and solar. And that’s not even talking about the cost of wind and solar itself.

    Realistically the cost of storage is so high that one simply burns fossil fuels, to the tune of 5-10 joules of fossil for every joule of solar PV, to prevent the grid from collapsing and to provide Japan with modern round the clock reliable power. Then that becomes a fossil fuel lock-in, locking in emissions for as long as the solar systems are in place. Which is decades.

    Renewable energy is just not worth the risk.

    And Fukushima are BWRs not PWRs. Educate yourself before losing your credibility.

  35. Have you tried running loss of land calculations on fossil fuels, assuming that Florida, Shanghai, Jakarta, Bangkok, most of Bangla Desh, London, the Netherlands, and countless other cities and farm areas are destined to go under water if their use continues ? Considering that any increases in cancer around Chernobyl, apart from thyroid effects from short-term radioiodine, are statistically undetectable, I’d rather live there than on a raft. Hydro has flooded a lot of land, too, but in theory, you could demolish the dams and move back. Once the ice caps melt, great swathes of heavily populated land will be gone like Doggerland.

  36. That’s a really good argument for a global insurance pool, which I’ve previously advocated.

    Keep in mind that becomes an average insurance cost. Ones for Mk 1 GE BWRs like at Fukushima will be higher. As well as one in earthquake and tsunami zones.

    Arguably if this insurance pool had already existed, Fukushima would have been shut down already because their insurance costs would have been something like 8 cents per kwh.

  37. You can’t justify blaming X on someone’s over-reaction to X.

    If I am terrified of birds, and one day I’m driving and I see a bird, over-react, crash the car and break my leg…

    I can’t justifiably say “See, birds are super dangerous, one destroyed my car and broke my leg.”

  38. Let’s assume that rationalism prevails (hah!) and we win the argument about nuke safety, where “safety” is limited solely to loss of life.

    The much bigger issue is about real estate.

    Here’s a computation that looks at the amount of land taken partially or wholly out of service by the 3 major accidents (Kyshtym, Chernobyl, and Fukushima). I first weight the amount of contaminated land by how much each contaminated level denies the use of the land. (These are guesses, but probably pretty good ones.) Then we divide by the number of years of commercial nuclear power (63) to get a land loss per year.

    Next, I make some fairly wild-ass guesses about the probability that a particular class of land is to be contaminated in a future accident, weight that by a rough value per km^2 of that class of land, and average them together to get a land cost per km^2. Finally, we multiply by the land loss per year number from the previous section to get an average cost of contaminated land per year.

    Feel free to quibble with my guesses, but it comes out to about $1.7B per year.

    Note that this is only the real estate value that’s destroyed. It doesn’t account for cleanup operations or knock-on effects to the economy.

    See what you think.

  39. If all that escaped the system were soluble, then NP; it’s going, gone. Hot particles however, are a problem. HP could cause necrosis externally, and much bigger problems internally. The vicinity of Chernobyl must be full of HP… prolly under 1cm of dirt now. Hopefully the release from Fukushima was all volatiles; seems reasonable. I agree the area close to Fukushima is not worthless, but I would build a frisker into my doorway to be sure I didn’t step in something if I were to turn nomansland into an opportunity.

  40. Yes, I was aware of that. It dissolves in cell membranes and alters their properties, which is actually the same way a number of anesthetics work.

  41. Don’t forget the bananas! They’re loaded with potassium, some of which is K-40! They’re little yellow murderers

  42. It isn’t so amazing when you consider just how much the crust of the Earth, (Never mind further down.) out weighs the atmosphere.

    If it weren’t for the fact that it efficiently escapes from the upper atmosphere, I bet a large fraction of the atmosphere would be helium.

  43. It would be much cheaper for Japan to invest in mass producing small Ocean Nuclear Power plants in remote Japaneses EEZ waters.

    Such floating reactors could be used to produce methanol through the electrolysis of distilled seawater to produce hydrogen and the extraction of CO2 from air or from seawater.

    The methanol can then be transported by tanker to methanol electric power plants located near coastal cities and towns to produce electricity and useful waste heat. The flu gas produced from the methanol power plants can be captured and transported back to the remote floating nuclear facilities to produce even more methanol.



  44. Very few if any would have gotten thyroid cancer from Chernobyl if there was no iodine deficiency and they gave everyone iodine pills after the accident. It is radioactive iodine that causes this. The human body is very efficient at gathering iodine from the environment if there is a deficiency. Breathing the air touching a surface. If there is iodine, it will take it. The body only knows chemistry. And the chemistry of radioactive iodine is the same as regular iodine, so the body knows no difference.
    Radioactive iodine is different than other radioactive stuff. Most radioactive stuff that is dilute in the environment the body can handle without permanent damage. Iodine is different because the body concentrates the iodine into one small organ…the thyroid gland.
    If the Soviets had taken the responsible steps to insure everyone had healthy iodine levels and then after the accident given them iodine pills, there would have been little or no increase in thyroid cancer.
    The Soviet Union was one of worst countries in regards to iodine nutrition, and Russia is still bad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine_deficiency#/media/File:Iodine_deficiency_world_map_-_DALY_-_WHO2004.svg

  45. No, he’s right: It’s just that, in the case of those elements, the nuclear reactions didn’t happen inside stars.

  46. The estimations for the cost of Fukushima range up to $180 billions. Divided by 25 years (assuming no one will learn anything from it and accidents are becoming the norm) and some 360 plants worldwide, this comes down to about 0.5 ct/kWh. Which is in the range of external costs for most renewables and an order of magnitude less than fossiles or biomass.

  47. Some 40% of the german journalists would vote for the green party. This is the root of the problem. These people are driving the rest of the political partys before them. Except the AfD, which many germans are struggling with, because the those same journalists are claiming them to be Nazis 24/7 (which is absolutely ricidulous. They are more center than american republicans).
    Most people do not have the patience to investigate in-deepth the dilemma of electricity generation (although given what they pay, they really should). What makes things worse is the obedient mentality. Otherwise we would have yellow vests like france.

  48. Germans aren’t stupid per se. They are clearly effective, efficient and able to follow through to a degree that most people wish they could copy.

    It’s just that every couple of generations the German people come across some completely insane idea and proceed to implement it with their characteristic rigour, efficiency and thoroughness. They don’t rethink it until about 10 catastrophes later.

    From the Pied Piper of Hamlin to the engine layout of the VW Beetle. The famous last words of most German disasters is “This plan is insane. I can prove this. I have prepared this chart. And if we extrapolate this chart we can show that we will be 10 times… No! 100 times more insane than those weak and lazy non-Germans have ever managed!”

    So, take the engine layout of the VW Beetle that is unstable and causes oversteering crashes when driven with 30 kW. The German approach was to sharpen the steering, add another couple of cylinders, and a turbo, multiply the power output by 10 and see how that goes.

  49. “The total cost of replacing the power generated by all of Japan’s nuclear power plants. The cost of upgrading all of those plants.”
    Add the cost of closing down Germany’s nukes as well, because they are afraid of Tsunamis in Bavaria.

    That is not really a cost caused by the Fukushima meltdown, it is caused by an irrational reaction thanks to ignorance and FUD.
    Thousands of people die or suffer from traffic accidents, yet, every day billions take part in traffic. If the same logic were applied everybody would stay at home.

  50. But we have learned valuable lessons from it:

    1. Evacuation was not needed and actually counter productive
    2. Complete nuclear shutdown was stupid.
    3. Don’t put your backup generators in a spot where they can get flooded. Better have extra sets in other spots to account for all possible scenarios.
    4. Germans are stupid.
  51. And the helium in your children’s party balloons is the product of uranium fission over millions of years. That helium accumulated in natural gas reservoirs. But that helium is not radioactive so who cares. Likewise, argon 40 is not radioactive.

  52. What is important is how much will the Fukushima meltdown cost. There is the loss of the reactors and generating assets. The total cost of replacing the power generated by all of Japan’s nuclear power plants. The cost of upgrading all of those plants. The cost of the land lost and all of the assets within that land. The future cost of containment and cleanup.

    It might seem cold but a human life is only worth a few million. Fukushima will end up costing many tens of billions if not hundreds of billions. Nuclear power from PWR is Just not worth the risk.

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