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Japan Reluctant To Disclose Drone Footage of Fukushima Plant 335

garymortimer writes with word that "footage taken from an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was passed on to the Japanese government with permission for public release from the US Air Force. US military sources said that the decision to release the footage — or not — was up to the Japanese government." The Japanese government, though, has thus far chosen not to release the high-resolution footage of the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
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Japan Reluctant To Disclose Drone Footage of Fukushima Plant

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  • Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:56PM (#35545624) Homepage

    By being secretive, they're letting rumors run rampant. It will surface at some point anyways, so they should just assume that and be more transparent about it.

    As it is now, I've heard of everything from 5 deaths and 20 wounded with all reactors in meltdown to nothing going on whatsoever. Uncertainty breeds fear.

  • Re:Not Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:47PM (#35546106)

    the radiation level is 3usv (sic!) above normal background.

    I know I'm nitpicking here, but saying that the "level is 3 uSv above normal background" does not make sense. 3 uSv is a dose (a tiny one) and background is measured in dose/time. So 3 uSv above background/second would be very significant, whereas 3 uSv above background/year would be totally negligible.

    The better reports actually state the levels as microseiverts/hour, which is indeed an insignificant level even if maintained for a few months.

  • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:52PM (#35546160)

    A nuclear power plant is at "stage 5" alert, where the worst is stage 7.

    Three Mile Island was also a stage 5 (don't know if you're old enough to remember that one). Also, it's a logarithmic scale.

    I'm not intending to play down the seriousness of the situation - it's definitely bad. But it's not "71% of the worst possible case scenario" bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:12PM (#35546358)
    For back ground reference: we do have some areal footage [] (source: TEPCO) and a bit of footage from the ground [] (source: MOD)
  • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:36PM (#35546568)

    Actually, the Wikipedia article does state that it is intended to be logarithmic.
    And it makes sense, because the difference between a 1 and a 2 is "Bob dropped his coffee" and "Bob dropped his coffee in the storage pool, now we gotta drain it", but the difference between a 6 and a 7 is "Might want to consider moving a couple dozen miles down the road" and "Might want to consider moving to a different hemisphere" ;)

  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:36PM (#35546572)

    The point would be for the exact level of damage to the spent fuel pools to be revealed, which would confirm the level of concern that should be given contamination fears. If the pools are all full of water or show undamaged assemblies, then the public would be reassured. That they have chosen not to release this footage, by Occam's Razor, indicates that things are worse than has been definitively confirmed, although likely not worse than has been widely speculated.

    Precisely this. There is absolutely no shortage of speculation and hypothesizing about worst case scenarios. Holding back information on the status of the facility is only going to help fuel the uncertainty produced by a lack of information!

    I really don't understand the strident desire by some to downplay the severity of this incident. In pure economic terms, this has crippled the Tokyo electric grid, probably for years, which is affecting the lives of tens of millions in the Tokyo area. It will also cost billions of dollars to clean up, by "clean-up" meaning entombing these particular facilities forever.

    When horrified people assumed that Chernobyl could happen anywhere, there was a reflexive response to dispel those fears with facts. A response which continues to this day. Unfortunately, those informed pro-nuclear attitudes have evolved to the point where a number of nuclear power's defenders steadfastly refuse to believe that anything could go significantly wrong with a reactor facility. Well-informed rationality has given way to hubris.

    A large-scale radioactive release, catastrophic system failure... these things were initially described as highly unlikely, and in the minds of some they've now reached the point of absolute impossibility. When presented with evidence that the situation at Fukushima was far more grave than initially reported, some of these people were extremely vocal in completely dismissing all concerns. When it became clear to just about everyone that the situation there was spiraling out of control, the disbelief continued. Often devolving into mocking those who thought something might be seriously wrong with the plant. (The old "OMG ATOMZ!!!!", etc attacks) It took an enormous amount of proof before this contingent of nuclear power supporters finally stopped ridiculing every bit of news from every single source as mindless fear-mongering.

    And yes, there has been fear-mongering, but there has been an almost equal amount of misplaced faith in technology. And as this situation proves, those with irrational fears of nuclear power exist on the opposite end of the spectrum of those who defend it without fail, irrespective of all evidence and fact.

    I have faith in technology, but bad things happen. No system is foolproof, and watching programmers and other well-educated people believe a particular application to be flawless is well... disheartening. It belongs in the magical fantasy land of bug-free code and cities filled with buildings lacking design flaws.

    I support nuclear power, but at the same time, I'm highly doubtful that any large company is going to provide me with the whole truth about any nuclear accident. History has shown it to be an unwise expectation. But that doesn't make me a hysterical NIMBY, and maybe this will be the wakeup call that lets people express opinions not rooted in some form of zealotry.

  • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:36PM (#35546574) Journal

    Being near sea level, the radiation levels in Tokyo are normally about 35 nanoSieverts per hour (nSv/h). This doesn't include dietary sources of radiation.

    According to this chart [], the radiation level for the past couple days has been 50 nSv/h. (the chart uses microGrays per hour (uGy/h), but 1 uGy = 1 uSv)

    Mexico City, being about 2.2 km elevation, has a higher background radiation because the atmosphere is thinner. They average 90 nSv/h there, almost double what's in Tokyo for the past two days.

    The real kicker? Each cigarette contains at least 1000 nSv, smoked directly into the lungs. Every cigarette someone smokes is like spending at least 20 hours standing in downtown Tokyo right now.

  • Re:Not Good (Score:2, Informative)

    by bakarocket ( 844390 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @10:11PM (#35546810)

    No, the site was set up to show the idiocy in reporting outside of Japan. We are all well aware of the potential danger to people living here, and we aren't depending on either the government or hysterical journalists for our information. My friend set up this site, so I'm intimately familiar with his motives.

    Most of the highlighted articles are pure panic-mongering, and some of them are based upon scientifically impossible, and suspiciously sourceless, data.

    We are basing our opinions upon the data ~ F5-ing the shit out of Geiger counter websites ~ and the data says there is nothing to fear for now. The outside media are basing their opinions on guesswork, and the guesswork says that fear sells.

  • Re:Not Good (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @10:25PM (#35546914)

    Actually, they still do [], but it's just the highlights and don't do much explanations:

    Japans Atomic Industrial Forum [] has better presentations, aparently from TEPCO data:

    World nuclear news [] has some explanations of the events, as does MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub []

    Those are the places I turn to when people start talking about normal media coverage. I just saw a CNN report that started out with clips of people saying that there was another explosion and that there was a fire on reactor 4. I went "shit" and checked. Turns out those were old clips from a few days ago when there were explosions and fires.

    It looks to me like things are more or less under control. The cores should now be in cold shutdown putting out nominal heat. Barring another accident (explosion, earthquake, tsunami, pump propeller breaking up and tearing a hole through a pipe, etc.) they should have things sorted out in a week or two. Not to say it's not a mess. Food from fukushima might need to be thrown out for a week or two while cesium decays and there will be rolling blackouts until this stabilizes enough for workers to take a look at the other 3 nuclear plants and restart them. but still it won't be anywhere near the disaster the media makes it out to be.

    As to the release of these pictures, while information is good and all, after this is all said and done TEPCO will still have to keep these power plants secure, and there are reactors just like these that will have to stay online until new ones are built. I understand Fukishima Daini and others use the same models. Handing high-res pictures of the facility to potential nuclear terrorists sounds like a bad idea, and the people who know what to censor are slightly busy at the moment.

  • Re:Did you know (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @10:35PM (#35546992)

    Well, at least they did place it on Tokyo. And the rest are actual nuclear plants but they missed a few.

    An accurate map is on the last page of this report []. 16 nuclear plants total, 12 of them active and unaffected. That's 40 nuclear reactors working safely, 8 safe even after the quake, and 6 at Fukushma Daiichi giving them trouble.

  • What are you, 10-years old. Come on, people...

    There's been an enormous astroturf effort by the pro-nuclear brigade.

    You'll find it next to impossible to have a sensible discussion without being swamped by godzilla jokes, comments that coal power emits more isotopes, that levels are lower than x,y,z or Chernoble (as though that was a good metric for personal safety).

    The simple answer is that the authorities, as evidenced by this article, are not releasing enough information for individuals to make sensible decisions. That's probably resulting in more fear, panic and cost than releasing real data for open analysis would. Likewise, the dismissive astroturf comments and efforts to bury valuable discussion just show how little we can trust the nuclear power industry to manage events without open scrutiny.

  • Rongelap Island (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2011 @11:42PM (#35547360)

    from Wikipedia:
    "From 1946 through 1958 the United States military conducted numerous atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, including hydrogen bomb tests, primarily at Bikini Atoll, about 120 kilometers from Rongelap Atoll. On March 1, 1954, the test of the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb generated radioactive fallout which killed a crewmember of a Japanese fishing boat, the Daigo Fukury Maru, and contaminated Rongelap, with snow-like irridated debris falling up to 2cm high over the island. A United States military medical team visited the island with geiger counters the day after the fallout fell, but left without telling the islanders of the danger they had been exposed to.[1] Nearly all inhabitants of the atoll subsequently complained of itchiness and sore skin; they vomitted, suffered from diarrhea and fatigue. Their symptoms also included burning eyes and swelling of the neck, arms, and legs.[2] The inhabitants were forced to abandon the islands, leaving all their belongings, three days after the test. They were relocated to Kwajalein for medical treatment.[3][2] The United States was subsequently accused of having used the inhabitants in medical research (without receiving consent) to study the effects of nuclear exposure.[1]"

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @11:43PM (#35547362)

    I agree that we have seen poor reporting by experts on the issues.

    Very early on when they had a Hydrogen bubble, I knew where it came from long before they announced it. Zirconium is flammable in water and steam. In short, it oxidizes. When lots of it oxidizes, a lot of Hydrogen is released. Simple chemistry. I find it PR that they say it "Oxidized" instead of burnt.

    In a nutshell, I knew the cladding that holds the fuel pellets caught fire, both in the fueled reactors and in the pond on #4 which was recently de-fueled. Air is not required to burn Zirconium. Oxygen from Water, CO2, or other sources works fine to support combustion.

    I have seen a Zirconium fire. It burns fine underwater.

  • by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @12:00AM (#35547434) Journal

    13mSv = 13,000 uSv = 13,000,000 nSv

    547 packs * 20 cigs/pack = 10,940 cigarettes

    13,000,000 nSv / 10,940 cigarettes = 1188.3 nSv / cigarette

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @12:54AM (#35547746)

    the hydrogen would have burned as it was separated.

    Hydrogen doesn't burn underwater.

  • by DeathSquid ( 937219 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @04:59AM (#35548566)

    FWIW I am in Tokyo.

    The "authorities" by which I suppose you mean TEPCO, NISA and the Cabinet have been releasing large volumes of information. TECPCO was reticent at first, becuase they had no clue what they were doing, but a personal visit from the PM and a frank exchange of views fixed that last Wednesday.

    I have been graphing the TEPCO data: []

    In any case, please don't make comments without educating yourself first (sigh, I know. this is slashdot).

  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @05:25AM (#35548632) Homepage

    The big solar thermal plant in Arizona is selling electricity at $.14/kWh .

    That's more than the US average of 12 cents [], but it's still a few cents, and not dollars. Going forward, it's going to be competitive.

    And nuclear doesn't include the cost of waste disposal, and coal doesn't include other external costs.

  • Re:mod parent up (Score:4, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:27PM (#35551594)

    I've watched Fox News, the actual news, not their talk shows, and it's a reasonable news source.

    Media Matters watchdog compiled a list of Fox News, not talk shows have in the past few years:

    • Bill Hemmer Accused Obama "Czar" Of Condoning Statutory Rape
    • In March, Fox News's Martha MacCallum presented a clip of Vice President Joe Biden saying "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" -- and presented it as from an interview that weekend. In fact, the clip came from a 2008 campaign event at which Biden was quoting Sen. John McCain.
    • In April, Fox News's Wendell Goler reported on an Obama question-and-answer session that was cut short to make it seem as if the president wanted a health care system "like the European countries." In fact, he was just restating a question -- he went on to say that he opposed such a system.
    • In May, Fox News's Jon Scott said the network had decided to look back on how the stimulus "grew, and grew, and grew." In fact, the entire report came from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release, complete with typo.
    • In October, Fox News's Trace Gallagher and Bill Sammon claimed that Senate Democrats would like provisions of the PATRIOT Act that helped catch a suspected terrorist to "go bye-bye." It was a total distortion of both the proposed changes and the terror case.
    • Wallace had a former Bush administration aide Jim Towey as a guest on "Fox News Sunday" in August and together they pushed numerous falsehoods about a Veterans Affairs administration pamphlet on end-of-life issues.
    • In a segment on Obama's budget in April, the network claimed it was four times bigger than President Bush's costliest plan. That simply isn't true.

    I could go on and grab more outright falsehoods and intentionally misleading edits by Fox News on their "real" news programs, but I think that should suffice to make the point. If you believe what their so called real news is telling you, then you're believing lies and being misled. I've heard the same argument you make repeated by more than one person and I think it's important to shed light on the issue. Fox's hard news may not be as blatantly biased and full of lies, but it still serves up a healthy serving of falsehood.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford