No, the Amount of Radiation Released from the Japanese Nuclear Reactors is NOT "Safe"

George Washington's picture

Just as with the Gulf oil spill - where BP, government spokesmen and mainstream talking heads spewed happy talk about how "benign" the dispersants were and how all the oil had disappeared - there is now an avalanche of statements that the radiation is at "safe" doses for everyone outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima.

For example, Japanese government call-in advice lines are telling people to simply rinse off any produce covered with radioactive dust.

Ann Coulter claims that radiation is good for you

It is not very confidence-inspiring that:

EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California.

Or that the EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.

What Levels of Radiation Are Being Released?

So what levels of radiation are being released at Fukushima?

New Scientist reports that the radioactive fallout from Japan is approaching Chernobyl levels:

Japan's damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.

Tyler Durden points out that - when you consider the fact that the amount of Caesium-137 released at Fukushima in the first 3-4 days of the crisis amounted to 50% that released by Chernobyl over 10 days - the real run rate of the radiation released at Fukushima is now about 120-150% the figure released by the Chernobyl explosion.

There are other signs of high levels radiation. See this and this. And it is important to remember that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.

This Could Continue for a While

Many experts say that it could take months to contain Fukushima. See this and this. And therefore, high radiation levels might continue to be released for some time.

Evidence for the fact that a quick fix is unlikely is widespread. For example, reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 were all leaking steam yesterday.

There was some indication that reactors 5 and 6 are leaking as well. As Kyodo News reports:

The firm [Tokyo Electric Power Company] also said it found both iodine-131 and cesium-137 in a sample taken from near the drain outlets of the plant's No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that stabilized Sunday in so-called ''cold shutdown.''

CNN notes today:

Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.

The cores of reactors 1 and 3 appear to be leaking as well.

This is not to say that there will be a full meltdown which sends radioactive plumes high into the stratosphere. I am assuming that will not happen. But the release of radioactivity is severe and ongoing.

But Low Doses of Radiation Are Safe ... Aren't They?

While most would dismiss as crackpot ramblings Coulter's claim that radiation is good for you, what about the pervasive claims that the amount of radiation which has been released is so low that it is "safe" for people outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima?

Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:

According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility.


Radiation can be concentrated many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.

John LaForge notes:

The National Council on Radiation Protection says, “… every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremen­tal increase in the risk of cancer.” The Environmental Protection Agency says, “… any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk.” The Department of Energy says about “low levels of radiation” that “… the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, “any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer ... any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk.” The National Academy of Sciences, in its “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII,” says, “... it is unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers ....”

Long story short, “One can no longer speak of a ‘safe’ dose level,” as Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff said in their report “No dose too low,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

And Brian Moench, MD, writes:

Administration spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn't as comforting as it seems.... Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.

The idea that a threshold exists or there is a safe level of radiation for human exposure began unraveling in the 1950s when research showed one pelvic x-ray in a pregnant woman could double the rate of childhood leukemia in an exposed baby. Furthermore, the risk was ten times higher if it occurred in the first three months of pregnancy than near the end. This became the stepping-stone to the understanding that the timing of exposure was even more critical than the dose. The earlier in embryonic development it occurred, the greater the risk.

A new medical concept has emerged, increasingly supported by the latest research, called "fetal origins of disease," that centers on the evidence that a multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, often have their origins in the first few weeks after conception by environmental insults disturbing normal embryonic development. It is now established medical advice that pregnant women should avoid any exposure to x-rays, medicines or chemicals when not absolutely necessary, no matter how small the dose, especially in the first three months.

"Epigenetics" is a term integral to fetal origins of disease, referring to chemical attachments to genes that turn them on or off inappropriately and have impacts functionally similar to broken genetic bonds. Epigenetic changes can be caused by unimaginably small doses - parts per trillion - be it chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke or radiation. Furthermore, these epigenetic changes can occur within minutes after exposure and may be passed on to subsequent generations.

The Endocrine Society, 14,000 researchers and medical specialists in more than 100 countries, warned that "even infinitesimally low levels of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, indeed, any level of exposure at all, may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses." If hormone-mimicking chemicals at any level are not safe for a fetus, then the concept is likely to be equally true of the even more intensely toxic radioactive elements drifting over from Japan, some of which may also act as endocrine disruptors.

Many epidemiologic studies show that extremely low doses of radiation increase the incidence of childhood cancers, low birth-weight babies, premature births, infant mortality, birth defects and even diminished intelligence. Just two abdominal x-rays delivered to a male can slightly increase the chance of his future children developing leukemia. By damaging proteins anywhere in a living cell, radiation can accelerate the aging process and diminish the function of any organ. Cells can repair themselves, but the rapidly growing cells in a fetus may divide before repair can occur, negating the body's defense mechanism and replicating the damage.

Comforting statements about the safety of low radiation are not even accurate for adults. Small increases in risk per individual have immense consequences in the aggregate. When low risk is accepted for billions of people, there will still be millions of victims. New research on risks of x-rays illustrate the point.

Radiation from CT coronary scans is considered low, but, statistically, it causes cancer in one of every 270 40-year-old women who receive the scan. Twenty year olds will have double that rate. Annually, 29,000 cancers are caused by the 70 million CT scans done in the US. Common, low-dose dental x-rays more than double the rate of thyroid cancer. Those exposed to repeated dental x-rays have an even higher risk of thyroid cancer.


Beginning with Madam Curie, the story of nuclear power is one where key players have consistently miscalculated or misrepresented the risks of radiation. The victims include many of those who worked on the original Manhattan Project, the 200,000 soldiers who were assigned to eye witness our nuclear tests, the residents of the Western US who absorbed the lion's share of fallout from our nuclear testing in Nevada, the thousands of forgotten victims of Three Mile Island or the likely hundreds of thousands of casualties of Chernobyl. This could be the latest chapter in that long and tragic story when, once again, we were told not to worry.

Note: People who rationally discuss the hazards from nuclear accidents are dismissed as "anti-nuclear". However, that is like saying that people who are against pilots drinking tequila during flights are anti-flying. As Bloomberg points out, the operator of the Fukushima reactors faked safety tests and results and cut every corner in the books for decades, just as BP cut every safety corner prior to the Gulf oil spill. Moreover, the Fukushima reactors were not designed to withstand an earthquake or a tsunami, and their peculiar design makes the spent fuel rods an even greater danger than the reactors themselves.

Demanding a safer design - e.g. thorium reactors - and ongoing maintenance and safety tests doesn't mean one is anti-nuclear.

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High Plains Drifter's picture

oh don't worry about it. by the time any radiation gets here, it will be harmless.........blah blah blah.......yeh sure...........

TheMerryPrankster's picture

You know TEPCO is gonna build 2 reactors on the gulf coast. Does anyone think this is a good idea?

" The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas -- by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn't suffered enough.

Here are the facts about Tokyo Electric and the industry you haven't heard on CNN:

The failure of emergency systems at Japan's nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called "SQ" or "Seismic Qualification." That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from Al Qaeda.

The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from 'failed' to 'passed.'

The company that put in the false safety report? Stone & Webster, now the nuclear unit of Shaw Construction which will work with Tokyo Electric to build the Texas plant, Lord help us."

ATG's picture

Even more insulting: Toshiba, the company that covered up welding mistakes on the expensive containment chamber pot, bought the rights to Westinghouse so the sheeple can think it's an American company installing death now or later


Check out DU pics. DU used in Afghanistan, Hawaii, Iraq and now Libya by US military brainwashed into thinking 1/1000 getting cancer is a good bet. Ask dying Army Nuclear Physics PhD whistleblower Doug Rokke: 14:54 AJ Alert


hardcleareye's picture


Read a post down below suggesting you explain the difference between the WW II bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the radiation from Fukushima.   I second that suggestion.


George Washington's picture

Brian Moench, MD, writes:

The Japanese reactors hold about 1,000 times more radiation than the bombs dropped over Hiroshima.(1)


ATG's picture

Bombs designed to consume all/most of their radioactive fuel at once, while reactors keep giving for up to 4.46 B years

Buck Johnson's picture

Yet the govt. won't tell us what error they are detecing on the radiation sensors.  They want to review it because they are showing so high and the govt. doesn't want that data to show online or to the public, so they call it an error and then they recalibrate it low.

ddtuttle's picture

There is some evidence that mutations from low level x-rays require two photons to become permanent, and therefore dangerous.  This would make low levels of xrays have a "dose squared" relationship.  That is, reducing the dose by half, would result in 1/4 the number of cancers.  This only applies to low doses of xrays.  Gamma rays and radioactive atoms like Iodine or Cesium (to name just 2), would overwhelm the body's defenses against background radiation, and would likely have a linear relationship: more radiation = more cancer.

pyite's picture

Zero Hedge is getting into tinfoil-hat range these days.  Please do something to help the tens of thousands of families who have had to suffer from real tragedy.  And spend some time researching the possible effects of Iodine and Caesium from a nuclear reactor:

I have been such a fan of Zero Hedge for so long but on this topic you are simply insane.

ATG's picture

Would hope for better from someone registered @ ZH 40 weeks

TheMerryPrankster's picture

The apologist at the Register ignores the reality as reported by the New York Times. Note the exposure levels to the burned workers and compare it to what is being reported at the Register.


The National Institute of Radiological Sciences said that the radioactivity of the water that the three workers had stepped in was 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant. It said that the amount of radiation the workers are thought to have been exposed to in the water was 2 to 6 sievert. Even 2 sievert is eight times the new 250 millisievert annual exposure limit set for workers at Daiichi in the days after the disaster; the previous limit was 100. Tokyo Electric officials said that water with an equally high radiation level had been found in the No. 1 reactor building, The Associated Press reported.

Skin exposures of 2 to 6 sieverts will cause severe burns, according to Dr. David J. Brenner, Director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. But if those doses reach the whole body and not just the skin “you’re at a very high risk of dying,” he said. At a dose of 4 sieverts half of the people exposed will die, Dr. Brenner said. But he said that from the information that had been provided it was not clear whether the dose to the workers reached their skin only, or penetrated their bodies.

Concerns about Reactor No. 3 have surfaced before. Japanese officials said nine days ago that the reactor vessel may have been damaged.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, mentioned damage to the reactor vessel on Friday as a possible explanation of how water in the adjacent containment building had become so radioactive. A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.

The severity of the radiation burns to the injured workers are consistent with contamination by water that had been in contact with damaged fuel rods, the executive said."


It said that the amount of radiation the workers are thought to have been exposed to in the water was 2 to 6 sievert. A crack in the containment vessel.

I don't think we are in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Turns out the yellow brick road was just yellowcake uranium.

Heroic Couplet's picture

Is anyone actually surprised? First, the Japanese have a long tradition of saving face. If GE designed the reactors, why the heck would the Japanese rush in to fix anything? Welcome to the real weapons of mass destruction. The US military is probably effectively neutered, for all that we have generals and admirals becoming lobbyists, which is why we see the "open the can of variety beer" coverage this week of "Gaddhafi" probably according to a plan the Pentagon wrote 10 years ago.

SmittyinLA's picture

You have to figure all the reactors in the buildings that had huge explosions are completely decoupled from their control, monitoring, and cooling systems with the only available cooling is passive water immersion and monitors installed after the explosions and monitors in other buildings which didn't explode.

Any data they get is only inferred from limited knowledge.  

Control valves, guages have to be connected to work, its likely all the cabling connecting those systems to the reactors were blown apart, I can't imagine catastrophic explosion proof cableing, and guages, ya I'm sure they're robust but explosion proof? no way.

As far as the water pumps go, they wont work either if the water or cooling fluids are filled with building debris including chunks of concrete and steel building parts.  

Eventially they gonna have  a suicide crew hoist the debris onto a barge and sink it in a subduction zone, nothing will change until that time, I don't think the Japs will accept a festering nuclear leak for long, they may even ask us to nuke it (with a tactical nuke) off the Island when the wind is right.

Boom end of discussion.

pyite's picture

they may even ask us to nuke it (with a tactical nuke) off the Island when the wind is right.

What are you smoking and where can I get some?


johnQpublic's picture

for what its worth....radiation is being detected in california least one supermarket chain where a friend of mine works is aware and monitoring the situation...via the FDA

being in produce dept as a manager he's unsure what to do interms of personal exposure considering all he handles daily

his company is looking at suspending their use of california produce...they are a northeastern US distributor, but he frequently is out west for produce purchasing etc.


and yet the japs are being told to rinse off their produce with what i can only assume would be contaminated water



at least chernobyl reactor was blown open to the air, so boron et al could be directly dumped on the problem

in fukushima ,someone is going to have to go in and insert the boron, i assume in small enuf bags that they can carry it to where it needs to go

of course its going to need to be cool enuf and the radiation low enuf that they can even do that, which i assume means it needs boron inserted first

we have a serious ass hole in this here bucket

and then bury it with an amount of concrete equal to the size of the pyramid at giza, which i believe the ground wont even support

this whole procedure, if any of it is even possible, will be billed to the taxpayers, while some corporation has taken the profits for years, all while having no long term plan for the eventual permanent disposal of any and all waste created

thus we always have things like superfund to clean up some corporations mess, mountaintop removal for coal mining, fracking for gas, the GOM oil disaster...constant destruction of earth for the sake of energy and endless wars for same

makes me want to go on a screaming rampage

pyite's picture

makes me want to go on a screaming rampage

Do some research on the effects of different types of reactors and isotopes.  Anyone in California who is worried about the radiation they are getting in the air IS A MORON.

Even the children at Chernobyl who drank contaminated milk had a 0.02 percent increased chance of thyroid cancer - which has one of the highest survival rates (ironically it is treated with radioactive iodine).

Compare the doses you find in these reports with this chart:

Confuchius's picture


Watch ALL of this Russian video, then tell us how cautious we should all be,,,
Confuchius's picture


Watch ALL of this Russian video, then tell us how cautious we should all be,,,
msgtb's picture

The fact that the 3 people were in the compound without a radiation detector to warn them of high levels of radiation is quite telling! God help Japan they need it.

Pseudo Anonym's picture

“… every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremen­tal increase in the risk of cancer.”

are there any studies or statistics that would indicate higher rates of "radiation exposure-like" illnesses occuring in NYC and among those that helped with WTC cleanup?  What I am referring to is Dimitri Khalezov theory that WTC 1,2,7 was nuked:


falak pema's picture

The only existential question now facing the japanese nation is : should the emperor soliloquize : to be or not to Hamlet. Or should he say : a horse, a horse my kingdom for a horse?!! Richard III.

Careless Whisper's picture

thanks for the post GW

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

I haven't heard anyone mention how the new normal of background of isotopes will overwhelm most if not all radiation detector technology at air and sea ports.

Used to be that if you got sub-micro Bequerels, of cesium/iodide isotopes, you set of alarms. You know, there is no reason to get those besides fission. The new normal background levels after a few months of this will be 5-10x higher for the foreseeable future.

How do we screen incoming transport when the background is higher than what we are trying to screen? Scary shit.

onthesquare's picture

How would one zero a Geiger Counter after this. We will have to send them into space to be zeroed.

onthesquare's picture

How would one zero a Geiger Counter after this. We will have to send them into space to be zeroed.

onthesquare's picture

How would one zero a Geiger Counter after this. We will have to send them into space to be zeroed.

WaterWings's picture

TPTB care not for the dead and dying - only that panic never ensues.

View the Gulf of Mexico. Old news for most sheeple. Japan is already old news as well in their eyes.

Solution? Make personal and community-level preparations for self-sustainability. JIT infrastructure cannot be counted on for much longer.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Good point, but I don't think anyone wants to discuss the security aspects of all of this.

George Washington's picture

It is, indeed, an interesting point. 

The trend is your friend's picture

Wall street spread their toxic shit all over the world and now Japan pays us back with Actual Toxic radiation...the irony

Herman Strandschnecke's picture

This is not a good day to be a Hypercondriac

aleph0's picture

Ralph Nader makes interest comments in the Q&A in part 4 , linked below :

# The US Nuclear Industry and Universities received Dr. Alexey Yablokov’s Report which was translated into English … mostly silence !!!

# Dr. Alexey Yablokov’s data showed fatality rates 100x times higher than those which the WHO reported !!! ( @6:30 onwards )


Nuclear Crisis In Japan & The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster 

Part 4 :



Diogenes's picture

Ralph Nader is an asshat.

ATG's picture

ad hominems take a hike

Matte_Black's picture

I've begun to hope the astroturf trolls are right, and that this is all much ado about nothing.

Has it occurred to anyone that if the trolls are even a little bit wrong, the consequences of this thing are still catastrophic?

If they were able to bring it all under control right now, it still is a catastrophe.

So wtf? The trolls are irrefutably wrong then.

Confuchius's picture

Matte Black


U will find this Russian video "instructive" (it's 90 minutes long.)

Watch it all.

Diamond Jim's picture

hey...radiation is good for do you think we went from monkeys to where we are today...thank a cosmic ray.

ATG's picture

most mutations are lethal

Arch Duke Ferdinand's picture


Friday, March 25, 2011
Canada.......Japan 1/ Canada...Tis the beginning of the Secession by Western Canada.....Eastern Canada's Provinces of Quebec and Ontario are running hummungus Provincial Deficits and expect Western Canada Four Provinces to burden Eastern Canada's costs.

2/   Japan...It is looking more and more like a major portion of the 30 to 120 million Japanese may have to emigrate to North America and elsewhere. Fukashima radiation may also threaten mainland Asia.  stay safe 

BigJim's picture

I never really liked spinach, anyway

falak pema's picture

you are a traitor to Popeye, sir! and to Olive Oyl, sweat pea!

Former Sheeple's picture


Some additional info:

TOKYO, March 25, Kyodo

Water which three workers were exposed to at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant contained radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday.


falak pema's picture

Here on our side of the pond, we shake at the arrogant certitude of french bureaucracy  in the face of rising public doubts about the reliability of their aging nuclear park : 58 reactors, most of them built in the '70s!

max2205's picture

Corexit suschi


We are doomed

ZerOhead's picture

More like they may be doomed... well not doomed... just irradiated a little.

Check out the wind direction on the 27th and 28th. Not good for Tokyo.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

"just irradiated a little."

Yeah, every day for how long? Months?  It adds up.

Former Sheeple's picture


Do you have any idea what the real absolut worst case could be, assuming #3 gets so hot they have to flee and leave all reactors unattended? It may not be "likely" but if everything continues to go badly, how ugly can it really get?