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Too much certainty…

One thing that really annoys me about those in the nuclear industry is statements like these:

“Ocean currents will disperse radiation particles and so it will be very diluted by the time it is consumed by fish and seaweed, and even more by the time they are consumed by humans. There is no need to worry about health risks.”

This is from Japan’s NISA (Nuclear Industrial Safety agency).

That is assuming the fish/ocean life are safely distant from where the water is being released, but also it assuming they aren’t picking up nasty particles like plutonium where it takes about nil to make one terminally ill.

Granted even I believe those scenarios are unlikely, however we really just do not know. They can’t even get the numbers right from one day to the next. The wind changes (which water flows do as well) and concentrations change, etc. etc.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t say, “It’s unlikely”, just the absolute certainty of, “There is no need to worry about health risks,” is nuts.

UPDATE:

Here’s another thing that annoys me, though maybe I’m quibbling over “semantics”. This report says shippers don’t have to worry about shipping through Tokyo because, “the U.S. Navy said radiation on vessels from the leaking Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant can be scrubbed off with soap and water.”

Ok, first of all, no one is scrubbing off “radiation” – they’re scrubbing off “radioactive particles”. The point being, particles can get ingested or otherwise find their ways inside of bodies and depending on the particular toxicity of the particle in question, which may well be random, it can do bad or worse things.

“radiation” isn’t like pixie-dust, it emanates from a host of nasty particles, some worse than others and since different varieties of particles, including probably the nastiest – plutonium, are all possible emissions from Fukushima, then depending on your luck you could have a run in with some very ugly stuff (even if at just low doses).

Is it likely? Probably not, but it isn’t zero. So when they say:

“These are extremely low levels and are easily cleaned off. Even if they weren’t, they still wouldn’t rise to the level where they would cause any harm to human health.”

the thing they’re leaving off is if somehow these particles end up in your lungs and sit there radiating, then they have plenty of time to “rise to the level”.

That is why all the pictures show people wearing masks thank you.

Again is the risk low? Yes. But not as definitive as these statements would make them. The reason they get away with it is by the time the any effects here become pathological, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to prove that this was a root cause (or more likely, a catalyst).

It’s sort of like getting another sun burn – can you prove that last one led to the carcinoma? No, but you really can’t say if it did or didn’t contribute to it.

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