Radiation Does Not Spread in Circles

That’s a quote from Greenpeace via the Irish Times.

Japan has expanded the evacuation zone around its crippled nuclear plant due to high levels of radiation, as a strong aftershock hit the area exactly a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

A magnitude 6.6 tremor shook buildings in Tokyo and a wide swathe of eastern Japan today, knocking out power to 220,000 households and causing a halt to water pumping to cool three damaged reactors at Fukushima.

The epicentre of the latest quake was 88km east of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and stopped power supply for pumping water to cool three of its reactors. The aftershock also forced engineers to postpone plans to remove highly contaminated water from a trench at a fourth reactor.

Today’s Wall Street Journal has more…

“Outside the 20-kilometer radius, there are some areas where cumulative radiation levels have been relatively high because of weather and other geographical factors,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

Edano said that the government will evacuate the areas where cumulative radiation exposure over one year may reach 20 millisieverts, based on international standards by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the International Commission On Radiological Protection.

Edano also said that all schools within a 30-kilometer radius from the plant will be closed

While the nuclear industry, in its public relations, has been striving to keep the focus on the immediate danger, the heart of the matter is the longevity and lethality of nuclear pollution. None of the pollutants we create and suffer from travel in circles– they accumulate and concentrate. The added danger to pregnant women and children is well-understood.

It will take years to sort out what could have been done in the Japanese response to this massive disaster. Japan is in crisis now, the US and other nations are assisting in the countless rescue efforts.

It is time, however, to challenge the flood of industry propaganda that muddies the discussion of nuclear power in the US. Relentless optimism and disparagement of alternative energy is fine for preaching to the converted, but won’t convince Americans who watch the news, when the plan is to build the reactor in their own back yard.

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