airport news

i flew cross country yesterday.  While waiting for my connection in Dallas i had a few moments of CNN.  They reported that Fukushima had been raised to a level 7 accident, the highest on the scale and the same as Chernobyl.  And then the broadcaster added that this was mostly a corrective measure reflecting the past, that the accident was under control and things were going to get better.

There is a reason for this comforting lie.  The first reason is that it is what highly paid government and industry experts are saying.  The worst is behind us, no more explosions, no worker deaths, workers are cleaning up, power has been restored, go back to your regular lives.  The second is that the MSM needs closure on this.  They dont want it to drag on like Iraq or Watergate or Whitewater.  Disasters have a short news life: dramatic pictures, victims struggle, relief workers heroically help, someone estimates the costs and fatalities and we move on.

The reality is that Fukushima is a slow motion train wreck.  Right off the top they still are not in control of reactor 1, pressure continues to increase, by 10% yesterday alone.  The evacuation zone has been extended to include 115K more people and everyone between 20 km and 30 km has been told to be prepared to evacuate with no notice.  Highly worrying is that the first 3 cases of Strontium contamination have been found all 30 km from the stricken reactors.  Strontium is especially problematic for several reasons.  First is that it indicates likely greater core damage than Cesium and Iodine releases.  Second is that it is highly toxic when inhaled.  And third is that it is invisible by almost all dosimeters.  As recently as three days ago cooling capacity was lost at reactors other than Fukushima due to continuing earthquakes, fortunately power was restored before fuel was damaged, but this is deeply worrying because it mean the problems are not localized and because we dont actually trust the authorities to report these things fully, so more problems can be occurring without them becoming public.

But the real train wreck is the human and environmental and health effects.  Radiation is slow.  Your friends miscarriage will likely not be traced back to these reactors poisonous plume spreading across North America.  It will be some years before researchers link the higher rates of mortality in unborn children and the elderly to this accident.  But there is no safe dose of radiation there will be deaths and disfigurements.  In Eastern Europe after Chernobyl poverty largely hid the effects of the radiation.  Japan is not the Ukraine.  There will be more monitoring, more media exposure, more empowered victims and their families to make noise about this injustice.