It has come to my attention that a Mike Adams has published a claim that the spent fuel ponds at Fukushima are a dire threat which is likely to exterminate mankind. He claims that the release of “radiation would turn North America into a “dead zone” for humans… mutated (and failed) crops, radioactive groundwater, skyrocketing infant mortality, an explosion in cancer and infertility”
Now before I go any further I will address some of these bold claims. I think that on many things Mike is very wrong.
- A radiation release from the spent fuel pond is very different to a release of radioactivity. I sincerely wish people would learn the difference ! The best way to think of it for the layman is to consider my dog, he sometimes barks and you could imagine the waves of sound coming from his mouth to be like radiation. His bark travels through the air obeying an inverse square law and with some distance from him the bark soon becomes less irksome. The dog is the object which emits the barks, you should think of the dog as being like the radioactivity. The barks from my dog might escape from the house when I open a window but the thing which emits the bark can not escape with the same ease.
- As cesium (the most mobile of the medium to long term irksome radioisotopes) sticks like glue to clay, almost all ground water and wells will remain radiologically safe to drink from no matter what happens.
So with these two important mistakes, omissions, distortions or whatever you want to call them lets take a look at the rest of his article using the our intellect !
Mike wrote that the cesium release will snuff out all life in mainland USA; I very much doubt that this would be possible.
He assumes that all the cesium will be released, and that 85 times as much 137Cs is in the ponds as was released at Chernobyl. I want to use the Chernobyl cesium in Scotland as a model for his proposed doomsday event.
I looked up the average level of 137Cs in soil in the UK, in Scotland the level of this radioisotope as a result of Chernobyl is 1580 give or take 310 Bq m-2 on moorland while it is 2510 give or take 510 Bq m-2. This might seem like a lot of radioactivity, but for a beta/gamma isotope this is not much. If we take the standard data on 137Cs we will find that the dose rate one meter above the surface of ground which is uniformly contaminated with 1 Bq m-2 is 1.6 pSv hr-1. So the dose rate due to the Chernobyl cesium in Scotland is 4.016 nSv hr-1. Which works out as 35 microSv per year. This is not much !
If we assume that the Chernobyl release had been 85 times larger, then the yearly dose would be now 3 mSv per year. This dose will not exterminate humans ! The chances of getting cancer as a result of living 60 years in such a place will be small. Only 1 in 111 people will get cancer as a result of this exposure even if we ignore the radioactive decay of the cesium. Sadly about 1 in 4 people die of cancer from other causes such as bad diet, smoking and simple bad luck. As a result I would not expect to see any noticeable change in the population.
So we have caught him in another error, not too good !
I would also like to point out that Mike has not fully explained the mechanism by which he proposes that the cesium will be released from the pond.
The great problem with his idea is that the heat production in the fuel in the pond has gone down greatly, the fuel will hardly be emitting any heat by now. This makes it much harder for the cesium to be released from the pond. I would be very interested to see how he proposes the pond will belch forth the cesium.
To give you some idea of what Mike is like here is what he thinks of the UN, he thinks it is “a criminal globalist organization engaged in widespread sex slave trafficking, child abuse and mass murder”. The last time I looked the UN appeared to be much more benign than that. I recall that recently part of the UN (the IAEA) got a noble peace prize (they spent the money part of the prize on cancer care for people in the third world).
Some years ago the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces have all been given Noble Peace Prizes.
I thought that the people in Norway who issue Noble peace prizes are careful not to issue them to bloodthirsty cut-throats and brigands.
This scorching condemnation of the UN does suggest to me that there is either something terribly wrong with either my understanding or Mike’s understanding of the UN. I think I will leave it up to my reader to judge the UN.
Before I do go, I would like to point out something. Fukushima was (and is) a horrible accident, but the horrible nature of the accident is not a license to exaggerate or lie. I fear that members of the Green movement who exaggerate or lie will do the environment a great harm, what will happen is that they will discredit the genuine concerns of those who want to protect the environment.
 A.S. Likuku, D. Branford, D. Fowler and K.J. Weston, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 2006, 90(1), 37-47.