Friday, March 25, 2011

Escape From Tokyo

Everybody knows nuclear power is safe because the death rate per watt produced is so low. So true. Now can someone tell me the last time an explosion at a coal fired plant caused the evacuation of 140,000 people? Could Tokyo be next?

Radioactive cesium 1.8 times higher than the standard level was found in a green leafy vegetable grown in a research facility in Tokyo, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Tokyo Metropolitan government.
Swell. Just swell.

Not to worry. The Japanese are considering expanding the exclusion zone.
The government is reviewing its current directive for people living in a 20 to 30 km [12 to 18 mi - ed.] radius of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to remain indoors, and may recommend they relocate farther away, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano indicated Thursday.

But Edano stressed in a news conference that reconsidering the directive does not mean the risk of radiation leaking from the plant is increasing.

"We are reviewing whether people (in the area) can continue living under current conditions," Edano said, noting locals have become dependent on Self-Defense Forces members for their supplies.

As trucking companies are shunning the designated no-go zone, residents there are finding daily necessities such as gasoline and food increasingly hard to come by.

Edano emphasized that the government would proceed with caution if it decides to revise the directive, to avoid sowing fear that the radiation danger is rising.
There are a couple of possibilities here. Either the danger was greater than originally stated and the government was blowing smoke or the danger is increasing and the government is blowing smoke.

Of course the trucking problem is serious. What if truckers decide it is no longer safe in the Tokyo area? Where exactly will Japan relocate their industries and people? Fortunately the death toll from nuclear is quite small. But you have to balance that against the economic costs of an accident. And the death toll. And we will not even have a clue on the magnitude of the death toll for at least a year because radiation in most cases is a slow poison.

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