03/18/2011, 00.00
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Fukushima is not Chernobyl, wind power causes more deaths

by Maurizio d'Orlando
Between 1952 and 2011, nuclear power caused 63 deaths against 73 for wind power. Media and undeclared interest groups are whipping up nuclear fears. It is too soon to compare Fukushima to Chernobyl. In the meantime, the victims of the earthquake and tsunami are forgotten.

Milan (AsiaNews) – How many people died in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami? For now, no exact figures exist, but early estimates put the number in the thousands, with about 10,000 missing. The latest reports suggest that they might be as high as 20,000. However, the victims of the quake and tsunami, and their economic consequences, appear to have taken a back seat to the incident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. “Catastrophe” and “apocalypse” are the terms most media around the world use to describe the incident at the power station rather than the natural disaster.

For the past 65 years, that is since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan, people have been afraid of nuclear power. Civilian nuclear power is almost as scary despite the existence of advanced safety systems. Such fear is almost metaphysical because it concerns a stealthy and silent death caused by atomic radiation. For this reason, media coverage holds the attention of readers and viewers.

Of course, mass media have to use vivid language in order to attract the public’s attention. But in this case, they are exaggerating to the extent that we might think that someone has an interest in spreading panic among people.

Historically, chaos and terror are the best tools for mass control. Nations can accept, with their consent, goals and objectives that elites might normally be hard pressed to push if openly presented because of strong opposition and rejection. Facts tend to fall by the wayside when terror and metaphysical fear take hold. Yet, someone is actually trying to do just that.

Deaths from Chernobyl and wind power

Since nuclear power first appeared, in 1952, until now, there were 63 recorded deaths relating to civilian nuclear power plants[1], 53 (top figure from all available reports) from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the worst to date.

As a result of that incident, 237 people suffered acute radiation sickness (ARS), mostly firefighters and rescue staff, who worked on bringing the crisis under control.

ARS has a 60 per cent mortality rate within 30 days of exposure if those affected get immediate intensive care. It is based on exposure levels ranging from 4 to 6 sievert (Sv). Of the 53 people who died in Chernobyl, 28 died of ARS; 15 died of thyroid cancer and the rest from other causes.

Out of 72,000 people who worked during the emergency, 216 died from non-tumour related causes, whilst among those who developed a tumour the number of deaths was insignificant (between 1991 and 1998 because of the time lag between exposure and appearance of illnesses), proportionately no higher than the rest, unexposed part of the population.

The event was of course a great tragedy, but it must be judged against the danger that every human activity entails. By comparison, the number of people who died in the wind power industry since the 1970s stands at 73[2].

In order to determine the level of danger each form of energy carries, we must look at the actual amount of energy each generates (not their potential) over a given period of time, and view them in relation to the number of deaths each can be blamed for. In 2009, nuclear power generated 2.6 trillion kwh (= 2600 Terawatt-hour, TWh) against 340 TWh for wind power, a figure that has declined since 2006, whilst wind power output jumped quickly, increasing tenfold. From this, we can see that wind power is more dangerous than nuclear power. Data for coal and hydrocarbon-generated electrical power also show that nuclear is more advantageous.

If we compare the Fukushima plant incident to Chernobyl, the most significant fact relates to acute radiation poisoning. First, 6 sievert (which is the level of ARS) correspond to 6 million microsievert (μSv). At present, levels around the Japanese plant are about 10 μSvh, for now. Only in two or three reading posts along the ring that surrounds the evacuation area (10 kilometres) are levels higher (according to data[3] of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the highest figure was 80 μSvh at 11.30 am on 16 March at Reading Points 21 and 4). The highest radiation level recorded in Fukushima (nor a brief moment at Plant № 3) was 400 mSvh[4] (millisievert per hour). By contrast, at Chernobyl, near Reactor № 4, radiation levels were much higher, around 10,000 / 300,000 mSvh.

Of course, in Chernobyl there was a core meltdown, something that has not yet occurred in Fukushima. However, constantly comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl does not stand the test.

What are the real reasons behind this anxiety-generating mass campaign? We do not have anything to go on, yet. However, we shall consider the various elements and if there are any convincing facts, present them.


[1] See “Chernobyl disaster,” in Wikipedia, retrieved on 18 March 2011.

[2] See “Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31st December 2010,” in Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, retrieved on 18 March 2011. Also, “Wind Turbine Accident Compilation,” retrieved on 18 March 2011.

[3] See “Huge Discrepancy In Radiation Readings In Fukushima Between Official (Semi) Disclosure And Japan Atomic Energy Agency,” in Zerohedge, 17 March 2011.

[4] See “Status of nuclear power plants in Fukushima as of 12:30 March 16 (Estimated by JAIF),” by the, Japan Atomic Forum, retrieved on 18 March 2011.

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