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Fukushima Radiation Worse Then Feared

A new analysis suggests that more radioactive contaminants were released from the crippled nuclear power plant then accounted for in official Japanese estimates.

By | October 26, 2011

Nuclear power plant Dukovany, Czech RepublicWIKIMEDIA COMMONS, PETR ADAMEK

Japanese officials underestimated the amount of radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant after March's devastating earthquake and tsunami, according to a recently-published report analyzing data from a global array of sensors and detectors.  In June, the Japanese government released a report stating that 1.5×1016 bequerels (Bq) of caesium-137—a harmful radioisotope that was released in large amounts from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986—and 1.1×1019 Bq of xenon-133, which does not pose a serious health risk as it's not absorbed by the body or the environment, had spewed from the crippled power plant. But the new report, submitted and available for open peer review in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, revises those totals to almost twice the official estimate, calculating a release of 3.5×1016 Bq caesium-137 and 1.7×1019 Bq of xenon-133.

The new findings are based on reading from dozens of sensors positioned within Japan and around the globe. Andreas Stohl, an atmospheric scientist with the Norwegian Institute for Air Research in Kjeller and first author on the paper, told Nature that the larger data set his team used to generate their estimates is likely the reason that they're higher than the official Japanese numbers. For example, the Japanese government's calculations did not take into account clouds of radioactive particles that blew out over the Pacific Ocean in the aftermath of the accident.

For detailed coverage of the nuclear disaster and its effects on people, wildlife, and the environment, see our Fallout at Fukushima series.

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Comments

Avatar of: muzza

muzza

Posts: 2

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster.  We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings.  Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades.  They might panic, yes.  They might also come after you.  I would.

Avatar of: muzza

muzza

Posts: 2

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster. We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings. Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades. They might panic, yes. They might also come after you. I would go after the perpetrators and the ones who covered up.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster.  We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings.  Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades.  They might panic, yes.  They might also come after you.  I would.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster. We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings. Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades. They might panic, yes. They might also come after you. I would go after the perpetrators and the ones who covered up.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster.  We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings.  Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades.  They might panic, yes.  They might also come after you.  I would.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 26, 2011

We know for certain the Japanese gov't. lied to us over the size and conesequences of The Disaster. We can safely extrapolate the United States, China and Russia have kept us in the dark too, going so far as to bury, withhold or misrepresent their findings. Once one of these events craps on the planet, humans can't take it back. In a twisted way, responsible course is not to tell millions of taxpayers their lives will be shortened by decades. They might panic, yes. They might also come after you. I would go after the perpetrators and the ones who covered up.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 27, 2011

The new estimates of radioactivity released from the stricken reactors
at Fukushima will cause more concern among lay public.The differences
are easily understandable. However much such models can be improved,
errors of the type observed are inevitable.If,as the proponents of the
new estimates claim, a major part of the release was over Pacific ocean
and was not accounted for in the Japanese assessment, it is practically
of little radiological consequence.

Anti nuclear zealots may start a
wave of arguments accusing the Japanese Government that they have
suppressed the inconvenient information.Every added research has
potential to cause flames of unwanted public anxiety, which cannot be
doused by logical arguments later.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

October 27, 2011

The new estimates of radioactivity released from the stricken reactors
at Fukushima will cause more concern among lay public.The differences
are easily understandable. However much such models can be improved,
errors of the type observed are inevitable.If,as the proponents of the
new estimates claim, a major part of the release was over Pacific ocean
and was not accounted for in the Japanese assessment, it is practically
of little radiological consequence.

Anti nuclear zealots may start a
wave of arguments accusing the Japanese Government that they have
suppressed the inconvenient information.Every added research has
potential to cause flames of unwanted public anxiety, which cannot be
doused by logical arguments later.

Avatar of: Parthasarathy

Parthasarathy

Posts: 1457

October 27, 2011

The new estimates of radioactivity released from the stricken reactors
at Fukushima will cause more concern among lay public.The differences
are easily understandable. However much such models can be improved,
errors of the type observed are inevitable.If,as the proponents of the
new estimates claim, a major part of the release was over Pacific ocean
and was not accounted for in the Japanese assessment, it is practically
of little radiological consequence.

Anti nuclear zealots may start a
wave of arguments accusing the Japanese Government that they have
suppressed the inconvenient information.Every added research has
potential to cause flames of unwanted public anxiety, which cannot be
doused by logical arguments later.

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