Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wrong Metric

Nuclear Power advocates like to tout the safety of nuclear power. They go on about the number of deaths per megawatt-hour. But that is the wrong metric when public perceptions are involved. The real metric that matters in terms of public perceptions is the number of international headlines per megawatt-hour. And to get that down to a tolerable level (I'd estimate that the number of incidents allowable per century is one) then reactors are going to have to be a LOT safer than they are currently.


Some updates:

Internal NRC Document on the status of the Fukushima plants on 26 March

Radiation Maps of Japan note that .25 mREM per hour is the threshold for evacuation. Also note that if you look at the map in full screen mode you can see hot spots in and around Tokyo. The hot spots are below the evacuation threshold. But still hotter than the surroundings.

Here are a few posts about the dangers of radiation. The numbers show that radiation is 10X to 1,000X more dangerous than the estimates usually used to predict the effects of radiation. Are they correct? You will have to make up your own mind. I must add that the folks behind this are a bunch of Greens. And they neglect to deal with the pervasiveness of uranium in the environment (beach sand is a prime example). The point of all this? With so much fear mongering going on new reactor designs will have to be much safer than current designs to overcome a significant fraction of that fear.

Radiation effects of Chernobyl - a book [pdf]. They use a lot of Russian sources not previously available in English.

The risks of internal exposure to fission products - a book [pdf]

European Committee on Radiation Risk - general resource

Uranium report showing that uranium's dangers are greater than previously thought. Especially for particles loged in the lungs.

More than 400,000 cancers predicted for the Fukushima accident.

And now for some balance:

Radiation hormesis - moderate levels of radiation make your immune system work better.

High background radiation areas in Iran and other parts of the world.

Our preliminary results suggest that prolonged exposure to very high levels of natural radiation could lead to the induction of radiation resistance among exposed individuals, which has interesting implications for many aspects of radiation protection policy.
Very interesting if the studies pan out.

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