On Sunday the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated that the U.S. faces very little in the way of danger from any fallout caused by potential meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. The plant suffered several explosions after the massive 9.1 mag earthquake on March 11th and has been further stricken by hundreds of aftershocks in the area.
The statement released on the agency’s website read: “Given the thousands of miles between the two countries, Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.”
Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 there was a media frenzy about potential life loss as a result of radiation sickness across Europe and Russia, 25 years later there have been only 57 deaths attributed to the event and they occurred when the reactor went into meltdown.
Although the fallout from Chernobyl was recorded as higher than that releases by the Hiroshima bomb it was still 400 times less radioactive than the amount caused by nuclear weapon testing during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Today Chernobyl and its surrounding area has been made a wildlife reserve and animal numbers have flourished since the disaster. An area called the Red Forest is blooming again; having been destroyed by radiation after the meltdown; and species of animals not seen for hundreds of years inhabit the region again.
Despite radiation levels being around 100 times higher than normal ambient levels, plant and animal life is continuing to exist without any notable signs of mutation or side effects of radiation exposure.
The closest town to Chernobyl is Pripya which was evacuated after the disaster. No humans live there now but wildlife has continued to increase over the past 20 years, giving a heartbeat to the silent tower blocks, breathing life into abandoned homes and giving a glimmer of hope to the Pripyat Ferris Wheel which now serves only as a ghostly reminder of the lives that once brought vibrancy to the streets.
Outlandish media claims
Fear mongering has been a feature of the media for decades and the incident in Japan seems to have given major news outlets license to continue that trend. CBS reported receiving an email from an expert on radiation, Dr. Helfand who told them: “The fuel rods contain enormous amounts of radioactive material – each reactor can release more radiation than 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs,”
“At Chernobyl, it spread over large areas of Europe, and significant areas up to 100 miles downwind needed to be abandoned, but the conditions were somewhat different, and we aren’t sure how far the radiation will be distributed this time.”
Clearly Helfand is saying that right now it’s impossible to determine how far any radioactive matter from the plant may travel but CBS in their wisdom used this spark a fear mongering campaign by saying the following:
“People exposed to low levels of radiation face increased risk of cancer. In addition, they can pass on to their offspring genetic mutations that can cause birth defects. Acute exposure to high levels of radiation can cause radiation sickness, a potentially lethal illness that triggers a range of terrifying symptoms, including vomiting blood.”
[adsense]Given that Chernobyl fallout failed to have any notable impact on any of the countries surrounding it, this is highly irresponsible reporting by CBS who know that spreading fear will increase their ratings and discussing the potential dangers as if they’re going to happen is completely immoral.
Given the 9,000km between Japan and the west coast of America it is highly unlikely that US citizens will feel any effects of radiation from Fukushima in their lifetime, and the media needs to be more realistic in its reporting of such material; hopefully then the rest of the world will be more realistic in dealing with information.
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images: time.com; ty.rannosaur.us;