mike23thurgood comments

Posted in: Germany urges Japan to deal honestly with WWII past See in context

Oh dear, please note this comment, which appears more than once: "Japan has apologised over and over and over again".

No doubt, but it's grotesquely hypocritical when you have a memorial which includes Japanese personalities who were found guilty of war crimes. In contrast, the Germans don't indulge in any such hypocritical insensitivity.

You Japanese shouldn't so so, either. Remove those individuals' names from your war memorials.

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Posted in: Nuclear to remain key Japan energy source, gov't panel says See in context

I accept the argument that the majority of other countries with nuclear power don't suffer from lots of seismic events, or have a few volcanoes around. I doubt that even you Japanese wold have considered constructing any NPSs within eyeshot of Mount Fujiyama, though.

Over the past 50 year, the Fukushima accident is, as far as I am aware, the only one to have been affected - but indirectly, please note - from seismic activity. Indirectly because, of course, the actual seismic event didn't cause any damage. It was the following hugely high tsunami which caused all the problems. Whoever in their right senses ever heard of locating such important plant as emergency generators in below-ground basement rooms which could be subject to flooding? If that hadn't occurred Fukushima would have been a non-event, as was being clearly proved before the arrival of the tsunami.

One person has raised the Windscale event and TMI-2 as major nuclear accidents - they weren't. The only radioactivity released from the Windscale "pile" was I-132. That was because, although Christopher Hinton thought of the filters - as an afterthought - which, therefore, had to be located at the top of the exhaust stacks - remember those awful looking stacks? - no one had considered the production of I-132 as a fission product. And with TMI-2, all the filters did their work magnificently, the only radioactivity being released into the atmosphere being radioactive rare gases - and how the Hecuba does one trap them? :Luckily they are virtually chemically unreactive, and don't enter into any part of the metabolism of humans and animals.

The only problem I would have with keeping all your nuclear reactors permanently shut down is the loss for a number of years of all that generating capacity. Like it or not, you can't establish working wind and solar generating facilities literally overnight. And it's not a question of the gradual changeover from one technology to the other, but doing so very rapidly. And that requires a lot of money to be instantly available. Is it?

So, exactly how is Japan managing with all that current loss of its nuclear generating capacity? Is commerce and industry continuing to work at maximum capacity, or is it lowered at the present time because of the world's generally unhappy economic situation, being in a depression?

So my point is: can Japan really manage, as a world power, without that nuclear generating capacity until renewable energy resources can be constructed? And if not where would Japan's economy end up if the general claimed current resistance to continuing with nuclear power is maintained?

But there is so much prejudice against nuclear power, mostly hidden from open comment until an event such as Fukushima occurs, which was nearly disastrous for the nuclear power industry across the world. Ie until it was appreciated that nothing occurred from the earthquake, but all from the tsunami putting the emergency generators out of action.

I would have thought that the pragmatic approach would be to get those nuclear reactors running again, and if resistance to nuclear cannot be subdued, then get those renewable resources on the go, giving yourselves 10 to 15 year to achieve the turnaround, by which time all the existing nuclear reactors will presumably have reached the end of their useful lives. And, yes, I am fully aware of the necessary "stress" tests being carried out, and also make sure there are no other emergency generators, anywhere, but anywhere, located below ground.

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Posted in: Glitch hits water decontamination system at Fukushima plant See in context

Complex plant always has a possibility for faults to arise. They may be minor, and not cause any problem, or more to very serious.

It isn't clear from the article whether the HCl acid leak was on the supply side, or from the "active" side, when it could contain radioactivity. If from the supply side there's absolutely no problem using a PVC bag temporarily to collect the acid until the leak is dealt with. But whether radioactively contaminated or not, it would not be good news to allow the leak to continue onto whatever floor was there. Or maybe the leak was outside on tarmac or even the ground soil. However, HCl will rapidly react with the calcium compounds in concrete, and locally destroy its strength. In any case, you don't want free acid to remain where people can walk about. Sodium bicarbonate powder will react with, and neutralise, it very quickly.

The particular plant in this latest incident is associated with radioactive decontamination work at Fukushima.

Interestingly, here in the Western Cape, South Africa, we hear about the occasional incident at the Koeberg nuclear power station (about 20 km up the west coast from where I live - I used to work there until my retirement a long time ago) which quite often aren't directly associated with the nuclear plants at all. But they still attract criticism, even when incidents are not associated with the nuclear plants - two French modified Westinghouse PWRs, 914 MW(e) output each - as though major nuclear events have occurred!

People mistakenly assume that nothing can, or should, go wrong with any nuclear reactor and its associated plants. Unfortunately it does, and it's not necessarily the fault of the utility/operator. It can be an undetected manufacturing fault, or the failure of a small component made by a sub-contractor. But major problems are intended to be very rare events.

South Africa has legislation - which it would appear that Japan any many other countries with nuclear power et al don't have - which requires any nuclear facilities in our country to establish, and fund, what is called "Public Information Safety Forums" (PSIF), to meet at intervals of, as I recall, not longer than three months. These meetings are required to have representatives present from the nuclear operator, the nuclear regulatory authority and the relevant major municipality - in our case the City of Cape Town (CoCT) - to answer questions from the attendees, who are largely made up from any members of the public who are inclined to attend these meetings. There's nothing compulsory about the public attendees, although it is obviously preferred that anyone who has any concerns should attend the relevant meetings at which they can raise questions, rather than shout from the sidelines and remain in ignorance of the facts. The CoCT, of course, has its feet planted in both courts, needing both to ask and answer questions.

It is an excellent nuclear safety communication system. The Chairman is appointed from suitable nominees from the public who live within a 5 km radius of the power station. In practice it's people living in a half circle because the power station is right on the coast!

How these meetings would be intended to operate if there was ever to be a serious event affecting either Koeberg PWR and their ancillary plant remains to be seen. But I would certainly anticipate that they would be much more frequent.

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Posted in: Japan must release Fukushima water into sea: U.S. adviser See in context

Well, there's surely a lot of criticism about the appointment of the US adviser to TEPCO. I would suggest that you have a problem, with no such ghastly nuclear accident having previously occurred in Japan.

US waste disposal expert, Lake Barratt, did after all, have experience in the disposal of nuclear wastes and the cleanup of the relatively milder accident at Three Mile Island (which involved a PWR, not BWRs as at Fukushima, which are quite a different reactor type). He also had ten years with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Complaints that he is only concerned with the interests of the nuclear industry are both unfair and disingenuous.

As your very, very own system has so clearly proved, you can't have incompetents in charge of your nuclear power programme - how is it that you have so easily forgotten that lesson? You must have advisers who are experienced in the relevant aspects of nuclear power plants. After all, common sense tells us that only perverse activists would take on a job in the nuclear power industry with the objective of trying to destroy all credibility in the technology, so workers in the industry are obviously going to be sympathetic towards the technology. But if any of you are unwilling to accept such a pragmatic approach, so be it.

Yes, the Fukushima disaster has indeed been a terrible shock to the people of Japan, who obviously had so much faith in the safety of their nuclear power programme. And this could still have remained the situation if only TEPCO had taken serious note of your own geologists, who had predicted the possibility of a very high tsunami in that region some years previously, and TEPCO did nothing about it.

The problem with some of the criticisms, as I see it, is that someone so obviously has the wrong and/or exaggerated story, and there are so many people about who, not unreasonably, know little or nothing about nuclear power, who jump on the bandwagon, no matter how inaccurate the original opinions they are repeating were, or may have been.

But as a matter of common sense, who else would you expect to appoint as an adviser than an individual who is knowledgeable about relevant aspects of nuclear power, in this case dealing with nuclear radwastes and regulatory aspects? Such an individual would be the ideal individual to choose, I would have thought.

It is obviously a great pity that no one advised TEPCO that to construct radwaste water storage tanks from panels bolted together with rubber seals between the joints would be disastrous. The sealing has miserably failed, although I am curious why it has occurred. But not to have had steel tanks welded in situ was presumably chosen by TEPCO because the former were cheaper.

So, this radioactive water is leaking out at a rate of about 30 tonnes (= ~30 cubic metres) per day, as I understand, and accumulating by pumping at about 400 tonnes per day. That's a lot of radioactively contaminated water to process and decontaminate and, hopefully, leave with a solid or paste of radwaste to eventually dispose.

But in the meantime, before the leakages can be stopped, what is to be done with the leaking water once it has got into the ground water, and before the vast ground freezing system becomes operational? Like it or not, it has got to be dealt with, and the most elegant way is to allow it to run into the sea.

And here, of course, is where all the problems arise with claims that this leaking radioactive water will contaminate the seabed and fish will end up being radioactive. TEPCO are attempting to find out exactly how serious these concerns are. But such work takes time to get results and assess the data and formulate sensible conclusions.

What would seem to have been overlooked is that the sea is vast, and there are continual movements of it through the tides, plus continuous mixing of the seawater with consequent dilution of whatever it is carrying both as particulates and what is dissolved in it. This dilution is the real factor which eventually reduces the concentration of whatever radionuclides were originally present at the time of its discharge into the sea to a minuscule concentration, which eventually no longer presents any radiological hazard to individuals eating fish that have been caught.

I am not suggesting for one moment that it's in any way satisfactory as a permanent solution to run the overspill radioactive water into the sea, but the main point is that this discharge is not intended to be long term, only transient until all the necessary technological considerations and construction works have been dealt with and completed.

Concerning some of the comments that Lake Barratt is alleged to have made, there's a lot of difference between the Japanese and English(US) languages, and has he either been misquoted, or has some aspect of the translation process gone awry? Oh, yes, of course I appreciate that he would have spoken in English! But what about the translation into Japanese, and then that translation being retranslated back into English? Just a thought.

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Posted in: New wiring defect found in ANA Dreamliner See in context

There's something radically wrong, somewhere. I would assume that the affected wiring wasn't that of a sub-contractor to Boeing, but was done on the actual aircraft by electricians.

Boeing would seem to be becoming too clever in an attempt to beat rival Aerospace with new aircraft - witness the problem with the new type Ni/Cd batteries catching fire - to get them in the air. It isn't good news for Boeing.

Wasn't the fire extinguisher wiring problem the reason for the fire in the upper body just forward of the tailplane on a Dreamliner at Heathrow Airport about a month ago?

Boeing must be extremely careful with their excellent safety record that they have built up over decades of aircraft construction not to allow it to be prejudiced.

From Mike Thurgood.

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Posted in: Prosecutors unlikely to indict Kan, ex-TEPCO execs over Fukushima See in context

Looking at the situation as a foreigner, unless Kan had been, say, a nuclear physicist and knowledgeable about nuclear matters, he had to rely on the advice from what I have been led to understand was previously some sort of national nuclear regulatory authority which didn't have the teeth to insist that the nuclear power industry apply its recommendations or else the nuclear plants would have to be shut down. Kan had to rely on an unsatisfactory nuclear advisory team which he had inherited, without the knowledge to appreciate that its terms of reference had to be radically changed, to make it a much tougher organisation, as I understand it now is.

Over the decades, with minimal reactor problems, I suppose everyone had become insensitive to the potential dangers of something going seriously wrong. In the case of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear reactors that their emergency generating plants were below ground, and could be inundated by an immensely high tsunami. OK, you will know all this, but I am just trying to put a bit of the picture into place for my following comments.

Now, a point about which I have no knowledge about is that warning some two years or so before March 11 2011 about much higher tsunamis which could occur than the seawalls at Fukushima had been designed to resist. And no doubt at many totally unconnected locations around the coast. Well, we saw the terrible inundation of some towns on TV shots taken from higher ground. I haven't seen any report, so was the high tsunami warning two years previously provided on the basis of clear evidence, or had such high tsunamis actually occurred in living memory? Or was the warning based on theoretical information? You should know the answers that I don't have. Did people in the govt and nuclear industry say, well when did we last have such a high tsunami; is there clear evidence of one? If there wasn't, it is difficult to blame people for saying to themselves, well, although we obviously have to take note (some time), we can't see any reason to panic over the issue. No one, but no one, including all those people in the Japanese population who are now so eager to blast everyone in the nuclear industry, and Kan, took any note or raised a campaign or even a whisper to get something done pdq. Well, did they? No. Could such an attitude occur anywhere in the world where there's nuclear power? Very likely. It's known as being wise after the event.

Therefore everyone, all of you, contributed to the eventual disaster, but you are reluctant to want to acknowledge that fact of life. And, yes, it could happen in any country which is subject to rare earthquakes, not only those around the Pacific seaboard which cause tsunamis. Therefore reactor installation design features have to cater for worst scenarios, even if they never occur either during the lifetime of the nuclear plants, nor occurred previously in living memory.

I don't suppose any of the present TEPCO management are around today who started off when the nuclear plants first went critical - they've all retired. Or the design staff who were responsible for the design and layout of the plants, including putting the wretched emergency generators below ground - they've also all retired. Therefore the present TEPCO mgt inherited the sins of those before them. Obviously some blame can be apportioned to them for not thinking through some of the problems that they inherited from their predecessors, but so little had occurred in the intervening years to prejudice the safety of the nuclear reactors, would not most people say to themselves, well, nothing much has happened over three to four decades, is it likely to do so now? So what's the hurry?

But where the Fukushima nuclear plants were concerned, yes someone eventually did think things out, a geologist no less, as I believe to be the case. Someone with no connections with nuclear power at all, but who could merely have been aware of the situation at Fukushima purely by accident. Maybe as a visitor with some academic or industrial group, just passively noticing odd things here and there around the plants which were originally of no consequence. Then something clicked in his mind.

Yes, OK, you know I know that I am speculating, but that's very often exactly how things go - accidentally and coincidentally.

TEPCO have an intolerable task on their hands to deal with, and largely paid for by their profits from selling electricity from other generating plants that they own. I suppose also with financial assistance from the government, although I don't know the answer to that question.

But what the incident has woken the nuclear industry to finally acknowledge is that all possible (seemingly impossible, too) contingencies which could prejudice reactor safety have to be taken into consideration in the reactor design features, and what are required for the actual installations, such as foundations, containment building, etc. It's been a surprisingly long learning curve for the industry.

But nothing that has happened over the past 50 years since the Windscale pile incident makes the nuclear power industry a non-viable industry for generating electricity. And I predict that to be the case for at least the next 50 years. Thermonuclear power always seems to be about 40 years round the corner. That's what it was 40 years ago and still is - seemingly It goes on going on!

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Posted in: Foreign nuclear experts blast TEPCO over lack of transparency See in context

It is surprising just how irresponsibly the TEPCO management have behaved since the March 2011 incident - or disaster if you prefer. - at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station.

The effect, internationally, is to have brought nuclear power into disrepute, and totally unjustifiably so.

The foreign nuclear experts were totally right in their scathing comments. It would appear that nuclear safety culture in Japan is not of the high standard which would normally be expected for such a high tech and potentially dangerous technology.

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Posted in: 4 researchers exposed to radiation at Tokaimura lab See in context

It needs to be noted that the ICRP recommendations give safe exposure data for two categories, namely the general public and another for radiation workers. (Apart from the once-in-a-lifetime emergency dose).

The limit for the general public incorporates a high safety margin. I am long retired and don;t have a copy of the ICRP regulations, so I am not familiar with their latest philosophy. But, in principle, the general public includes children, and pregnant mothers, the foetus in its developmental stage being a lot more radiation-sensitive than adults and children.

Radiation workers are - or certainly should be - under strict control, and wear film badges or whatever equivalent electronic personal doseimeters are available thee days, to maintain a surveillance on their dose accumulation. The assumption us that radiation workers work for specific controlled exposure hours per day, whereas the general population can be exposed, uncontrolled, for 24/7.

I anyone wishes to challenge what national regulatory authorities accept for safe radiation exposures, then they need to be contacted with ones concerns. But challenging the ICRP recommendations will be a tough exercise! Of course, national regulatory authorities can decide to recommend even lower dose accumulations and exposure dose rates than recommended by the ICRP.

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Posted in: 4 researchers exposed to radiation at Tokaimura lab See in context

Poster "No Miso" doesn't understand the concept behind the ICRP recommendations for exposure to ionizing radiations. They provide data for radiation workers and the general public. Those for radiation workers are considerably higher, but are still regarded as being perfectly safe from the point of view of radiation harm being caused. The ICRP also recommends a quite high once-in-a-lifetime exposure dose which, hopefully (my word), won't necessarily cause any radiation harm to an exposed individual.

The incident reported would appear to have been minor, not associated in any way with nuclear power, and it only became a public issue because an unprotected air fan was switched on, thus transferring a small amount of radioactive gold into the atmosphere - more of that below.

We should be aware that all people react differently to harmful vectors. One such vector, ionizing radiations, have always been around, both from outer space as cosmic radiations, and on earth itself from our natural radioactivity - uranium, thorium, and their radioactive decay products, etc. And although humankind has obviously survived that natural radiation background, traced back through millions of years of evolutionary processes, no one can say that a few individuals haven't succumbed to the harmful effects of that natural background radiation. But very few, I am sure, although I can't guess at, nor ever come across, a figure, but which will have an extremely low probability. Otherwise animate lifeforms would not have survived, let alone evolved, on Earth.

But, by the same token, various vectors have been responsible for evolutionary processes to proceed, usually by inducing some small change in the highly complex organic gene and chromosome molecular structures. Who can say what contribution to evolutionary processes have been successfully achieved by these ionizing radiation-induced changes? I would imagine quite a substantial proportion of those changes have been accidentally successful. Yes, it's an accidental process - after all, evolution is surely a trial and error process when it relies entirely on tiny changes to the structure of highly complex organic molecules? Some will be destructive to the living organism, and others will be constructive.

Where the latest incident is concerned, let me make this comment: who was so unutterably stupid to have a fan in a research laboratory where radioactive materials are both produced and used in experiments which pushes air directly into the atmosphere, with the outlet not being protected by an absolute filter and activated carbon?

Those posters who want to equate this particular laboratory work with nuclear energy and fission have got it all wrong, of course. But - except for one individual poster who was aware of the work, and has clearly described it - how are posters to know anything? I apologise in advance for being critical, but the article above in Japan Today has done a disservice to radioactivity research work in Japan because there was no attempt to include information which would have better informed readers of the circumstances of the work. It's technical, therefore a journalist surely should have tried to get in touch with a manager to give relevant brief information. Luckily, poster has done so instead. (One poster mentions a report in the "Huffington Post": USA I assume).

The idea that some posters have that all research involving radioactive materials, proton generators, etc, is all to do with nuclear power is an appalling misunderstanding of the vast benefits that the results of such work over the past 60 years has achieved, especially in medicine; understanding nuclear structure; helping to solve the mystery of the origin of the universe. Yes, of course, such aspects are of low interest to the majority of people because they are never provided with any basic information on the subject in school curricula. Just the basics are needed, that's all.

Nuclear and radiation physics per se are based on natural universal phenomena. It's the use of specific associated technologies which causes controversy.

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Posted in: N Korea threatens nuclear retaliation against Japan See in context

I presume that the North Koreans know why they would like to destroy the rest of the world. Just considering the differences between North and South Korea, how did such an incredible difference arise, because I really don't know. Perhaps there will be an explanation I can obtain form the internet. But it really is incredible. And where did the N Koreans get all their money from to pay for all these sophisticated armaments?

When the Chinese become concerned, then we really do know that there's a real problem out there.

But it does demonstrate the danger of a young individual becoming a country's leader in countries where there's no election processes for new leaders, and family members continue the leadership when their older members die..

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Posted in: Fukushima plant springs another radioactive leak See in context

I suppose the usual reaction to these radioactive leaks is to be expected - although obviously they justifiably cause great concern amongst the people - namely TEPCO's allegedly continued incompetence.

After the incident, TEPCO had to get to work very quickly to contain radioactive leaks, with relatively temporary structures necessarily having to be installed, eg containment tanks and pipework.

If, instead, TEPCO had gone through a rigid design process, everyone would have been justified is saying that TEPCO were mad - all hell would have been let loose!

Now that these temporary structures are showing that they are indeed temporary, there's still complaints about TEPCO's effectiveness.

Well, living here in South Africa - and about 25 km from the Koeberg nuclear power station - I obviously don't know anything more about TEPCO than what I have read in Japan Today. I am aware that they have brought in overseas specialists, to advise, and I can't really believe, with the results of such a disaster to be dealt with, that they have learnt nothing about what they have to do. But it's long term. But also, just maybe, for the years ahead it might be advisable for TEPCO now to seriously consider the construction of rather more permanent (upgraded) safety and containment structures, on the basis, I would assume (I hope correctly) that radioactive leaks of contaminated water currently present the worst threat.

At least Japanese residents can be assured that, after this time from the incident in March 2011, the amount of heat being produced in the destroyed cores of three reactors (1, 2 & 4 as I recall) will have fallen by many orders of magnitude as the shorter half life radionuclides in the core have decayed to nearly zero activity.

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Posted in: Flooding complicates clean-up at Fukushima plant See in context

Groundwater won't run uphill, and it it will have a gradual lowering gradient to wherever it can find its way, eventually, either into rivers or the sea. Where the Fukushima plants are concerned, the only way it will travel into the reactor spaces will effectively be horizontally. Therefore it's only a few metres below the ground surface.

Some posters are right that a continual inflow of the groundwater should prevent any radioactive leakages outwards into the environment.

But I assume that what is causing the most trouble from ground water is that it is restricting access to the reactor cores until its ingress can be stopped. How the primary containments in which the cores are located were breached, except by human intervention, I wouldn't otherwise know. Or why such breaches had to be done at all. I don't think that there was any evidence that the breaches were the direct result of the earthquake. The question in my mind is: was it necessary to make them in the first place?

But with all the residual concerns arising from the accident in March 2011, with no one having actually died from any radiation exposures (and yes, I do appreciate that a few people may die from radiation exposure over the next 40 years from radiation induced cancers), all the unfortunate deaths in March 2011 were associated with the actual tsunami.

What I would have thought the Japanese would have been getting far more uptight about is the political situation raised by recent UN increased restrictions on N. Korea, with the latter seemingly retaliating by threatening to start a nuclear war. It doesn't even look as though they will ask themselves what the consequences would be, worldwide: do they even care? Or is the threat nothing more than hot air? But they can certainly threaten with their nuclear capability, using long distance rockets. Surely this is now a far more serious issue?

The spread of airborne radioactivity from a number of nuclear bombs will leave airborne contamination for decades, as resulted from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, and all the nuclear tests which were carried out above ground in the 50s and 60s, until they were stopped in favour of underground tests. Radionuclides with varying half lives will be deposited on the ground, to stay there for times varying from a few tens of years to millions of years.

It remains a complete mystery to me who the N Koreans are; that they seemingly believe themselves to be such an important nation to want a nuclear capacity at all. Do they really wish to dominate the world - with China next door? A major nuclear war would decimate the world's population with the deposited radioactivity. But it might give evolution a chance to counter the harmful effects - I wonder?

"He whom the Grand Designer wisheth to destroy, he first maketh mad".

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Posted in: Bullet train derails in Akita See in context

I'm absolutely incredulous: the passengers had to wait for four hours whilst "investigations were being carried out" before buses, etc, were called to evacuate them???? What would have been done if any passengers had been seriously injured?

I know we can expect such madness here in South Africa (no doubt you have all seen the appalling way South African police dragged that errant taxi driver behind their vehicle along the road hanging off the back of the vehicle), but in Japan? What, did the rail authorities believe that the passengers were responsible, especially when the train was going at a very slow speed because of the snowed up track?

Yep - very sorry, but I remain incredulous!

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Posted in: WHO: Small cancer risk after Fukushima accident See in context

Moderator - repeat in case it didn't go through the first time

Three points I would like to comment on. First, badsey3 says: "That is exactly why radioactive iodine is so dangerous. With that really short half-life you are getting massive amounts of radiation (radioactive iodine in thyroid) in a short time. Every-one around these nuclear facilities should have had potassium iodide on hand given out by Tepco (usually a 10 mile radius)". True, but if the intake of I-131 can be limited, then the dose to the thyroid can also be very effectively limited, and the residual I-131 dose becomes a whole body dose. With a good dose of (stable) potassium iodate (note that its iodide tends to decompose and has the taste of free iodine, which has been found to be aesthetically unacceptable) the dose to the thyroid can be nearly 100% avoided, except from surrounding I-131 atoms in the body fluids. But by badsey3's own argument, after 80 days following an accident with radioactive releases, there will be no more radioiodine around, ever, to affect the thyroid. But that doesn't clear the presence of longer lived radioactivity in whatever air-borne particulates have been released into the environment, the most common one being caesium-137. My second comment is to escape_artist who writes "let's hope you never have to be anywhere near when a nuclear accident occurs, because there will surely be more, or the growing piles of nuclear waste with nowhere to go, a despicable and humongous problem selfishly being left for future generations". The idea that the nuclear industry doesn't know how to deal with, and dispose of, its used nuclear fuel and other high activity radioactive wastes is quite incorrect. They have known how to deal with it for decades. And it's also still in the melting pot whether to process spent nuclear fuel to use the residual fissionable nuclides in fast breeder reactors, of course. That would certainly get rid of what causes so much concern - Pu-239, the stuff of nuclear bombs. But no one is as yet enthusiastic to start a national FBR nuclear programme, in whatever country. No, the problem lies with all you people out there, the public, who, whenever a possible disposal site is mentioned, shout out loudly over the rooftops, NIMBY!!! NOT IN MY B----Y BACKYARD! (Or whatever the Japanese equivalent is!) Just look at the ludicrous situation in Britain at the moment - but I'm not using this forum to discuss their problem! My third point is about this one from bass4funk "What's sad about this is that there are people in Japan that will believe what the J-govt. says, no matter what! After such a nuclear fallout, of course 2 years later, everything should be back to normal and everything is absolutely safe, untainted and nothing to worry about. Who in their right sensible mind believes that?" Now, I have been reading the daily online issues of JAPANTODAY since March, 2011, but unless I have missed something vital, I haven't really got this message. Unless some govt official has made comments who is quite unfamiliar with the subject of environmental radioactive contamination from reactor releases, such as occurred from three of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactors. I haven't read anything like it. As far as I am aware, no plutonium was released - it requires higher temperatures to vapourise than actually occurred. But just right for the release of Cs-137, and a few other radionuclides which would have been deposited on the ground (down-wind, please! - ie to the NW). Although they obviously radioactively decay, you don't rely on that characteristic for a radionuclide to disappear when its half life is around 32 years. You literally have to rely on the radioactivity travelling ever further into the ground with rain, and/or getting washed out into rivers and then to the sea. None of this is a short term process, hence the problem of large tracts of land which become unusable for a number of decades. And, of course, unfortunately that can include homes. In reports such as the current WHO report, there's invariably going to be great difficulties in trying to differentiate the natural occurrence of leukemia in children - which could be induced by natural earthbound low intensity radioactivity, and cosmic radiation, plus whatever possibilities there are in some organic compounds in foodstuffs - from what could be induced by the deposited radioactivity as at Fukushima prior to the evacuations. I can only thank the heavens that I never chose such a subject for my career in the nuclear industry!

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Posted in: WHO: Small cancer risk after Fukushima accident See in context

This post needs a little more explanation: "These nuclear particles embed themselves in tissues. Long term there is a risk, but they only want to talk about the immediate energy that was radiated. For that there really is no comparison".

Please note that my comments are made not yet having read the WHO report. But the generalities are absolutely relevant.

Solid nuclear particulates which are breathed in or ingested are not necessarily insoluble in body fluids. If they are insoluble, then they are likely to remain where they became embedded in the tissue, and the harm they could cause would be related to how much radioactivity is present, and its half life.

Soluble particles will be rapidly dispersed within body fluids without concentrating anywhere - except in the bladder - and except for specific radionuclides of elements which are normally incorporated in body biochemicals (tissues, body organs, bone, etc), the radioactivity will be rapidly excreted.

In the case or radioiodine, most commonly I-131 from nuclear reactors, this is freely soluble in body fluids, but it is preferentially absorbed by the thyroid because iodine is relatively rare in nature, and the body needs every bit it can get a hold of to form thyroxine, the hormone produced in the thyroid. Thus the reason for having potassium iodate tablets available around nuclear power station sites in inhabited areas is to literally flood the body with iodine at the crucial time when I-131 is being released and may be inhaled, which now inhibits it from entering into the thyroxine which s being continually produced.

I-131, and natural iodine isotopes, present in excess in body fluids, are rapidly excreted, although i don't have to hand the biological half life.

My final point is that iodine-131, just like its natural non-radioactive isotopes, is freely soluble in body fluids and, in particular, I-131 has a half life of about 8 days. So, after about ten half lives it will all have disappeared in any case - about 80 days. In any nuclear reactor from which the core contents have been released into the atmosphere, no further I-131 is produced because the nuclear core is no longer critical. So all traces of I-131m following an accident, disappear totally after around 80 days. And !-131 decays into xenon-131, which is a non-radioactive naturally occurring Nobel gas, which is present in the atmosphere in very small amounts.

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Posted in: Former nuclear safety chief questioned over Fukushima negligence See in context

The belief that people will start dying en masse after a few years is not how it happens. Anyone who receives very high radiation doses will die in a few days to weeks through the sheer amount of biological damage caused by the ionizing radiations, as happened with the initial safety/recovery teams at Chernobyl. People with intermediate exposure doses will be ill with radiation biological damage, but from which they will recover with no short term deleterious health effects. They will remain healthy for years, but some of them - not all - could develope various cancers, from which they will eventually die.

I don't think that the huge tsunami which hit the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station was an act of sabotage! Unless someone set off a vast charge of explosives to initiate the subducting earthquake.

The basic fact about Fukushima - and other Japanese nuclear power stations at coast? I don't know - was that warnings from geologists of the distinct possibility of a massive subducting earthquake producing a huge tsunami was, from what I read in 2011, ignored, and the earlier nuclear regulatory authority didn't appear to have the power to force TEPCO to initiate remedial measures. The fact that the emergency diesel generators were located in floodable basements was a terrible design glitch, which so obviously should never have passed the design scrutineers.

Well, for sure no one has suffered more from the ignoring advice than TEPCO.

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Posted in: Serial tree killer on the loose in 5 prefectures See in context

It would be curious for anyone to be poisoning these sacred trees just for the fun of doing so - there's nothing to be gained or achieved, unless it is some anti-Shinto individual, of course.

If, however, someone has their eye on the commercial use of what would be a very valuable wood, surely someone would be found to be going around and asking priests if their sacred trees trees are showing signs of dieing, they will purchase the trunks? I couldn't imagine very many people being involved over a relatively moderate region. Are the police doing their job properly?

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Posted in: Scientists setting radiation exposure limits took utility money: probe See in context

Having read through the comments so far, there would appear to be a lot of misunderstandings of the status of the ICRP. As has been stated, it makes recommendations, and it relies on the general high level international status of its members in the radiation safety field that it's recommendations are generally accepted by government regulatory authorities with few questions being asked - generally, anyway. If anyone questions any recommendations, it will normally be the specialists themselves.

The Linear-no-threshold - LNT - theory was rather unfortunate, in that there never seemed to be adequate explanation that it didn't represent the actual situation relating to the health effects of ionizing radiations going right down to zero exposure, but it was in reality a simple system for radiation control in radiation facilities of all sorts, eg those run by industry and governments. But the concept has been misunderstood - deliberately to the advantage of the nuclear opponents, of course.

No one can escape from the natural radiation background. And where naturally occurring radioactive isotopes are concerned, whether they are alpha or beta emitters, and whether or not they also emit electromagnetic photon radiation - gamma and X-rays - there's nothing unusual about any of these radiations. The only difference with nuclear reactors is that the most rare radiations in nature, neutrons, are produced in abundance, because the nuclear fission reactions depend on their production. In the natural environment there aren't many neutrons around, although let's be quite definite in understanding that some uranium isotopes undergo what is referred to as spontaneous fissioning, emitting a few neutrons in the process.

As I comments in an earlier post, I think that the scientists involved in attending international conferences, apparently at the cost of the Japanese utilities, need some further in-depth investigation before too vapid claims are made against them. I am sure that no one in japan is at all happy about what occurred at the Dai-Ichi nuclear power station in March 2011, but unhelpful comments don't help get things back to normality, as it was prior to the serious accident. But I am not Japanese, and it is not my business to pontificate on matters which are the concern of the Japanese in their own country.

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Posted in: Scientists setting radiation exposure limits took utility money: probe See in context

Before I forget, I suppose I should make some comment on what the article was actually about! Radiation scientists attending international conferences paid for by the Japanese utilities, rather than from a government source. But did the utilities pool their contributions to a fund which was used to anonymously to reimburse the scientists their expenses, or did the utilities select the scientists and tell them if you support us we will pay all your expenses?

But there remains a great difference between having one's actual expenses paid and being given a high bonus for doing a company's bidding. The status of the Japanese radiation scientists perhaps needs a little more in-depth investigation before clear accusations are made against them.

Interestingly, the work I carried out, although as an employee of a private company in Britain, I was paid by the Ministry of Defence for attendance at conferences. The question of any conflict of interests never arose. In fact, the results of our work didn't relate to any company employees, but to personnel in the armed forces. So we were third parties in any event.

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Posted in: Scientists setting radiation exposure limits took utility money: probe See in context

A quote from the article: "The official stance of the International Commission on Radiological Protection is that the health risks from radiation become zero only with zero exposure. But some of the eight Japanese ICRP members do not subscribe to that view, asserting that low-dose radiation is harmless or the risks are negligible".

Although, in the total absence of ionizing radiations, they obviously can't cause any health harm, the practicality of achieving zero exposure is itself effectively zero. Up to when I retired in 1992, it was generally accepted that, at the "normal" background radiation levels, little or no health harm was caused. Of course, there's always the extremely sensitive individual on whom any radiation exposure will result in cancers forming. But who can claim that evolution in part doesn't depend on mutations which are caused by exposure to low levels of ionizing radiations? I doubt if it's a factor which can ever be proved, unless someone one day succeeds in seeing an actual interaction of a single ionizing radiation event with a gene in a specific cell of a young person, and the observer is clever enough to be able to claim "Hey Presto! That mutation will definitely benefit the human race if it can be dispersed widely".

For all I know, individuals currently running the ICRP, none of whom I have heard of, possibly have different concepts on their minds about the effects of low intensity - ie at b/g levels - ionizing radiations, to that of their predecessors. Who is to say that they aren't right - or, indeed, wrong - without any substantive evidence to prove their thesis? So perhaps I need to think: had I better change my mind, quick?!

But maybe not. Thus for every 99 out of 100 mutation events which are either useless or harmful, one might be highly beneficial. Nature and evolution clearly know the answer because it's all around us with every vestige of evolution. Like it or not, evolution has undoubtedly made use of ionizing events with genes to improve the gene pool of individual species of plants and animals, not just homo sapiens.

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Posted in: Noda says protests will hurt China's economy See in context

I have had a brief read through the Wikipedia article about these islands. The total area of them, including rocky outcrops, is less that 5 sq.km. But just think how immensely vast compared with the area of China!

Unless there are known vast reserves of oil below the surrounding seabed, it difficult to see how such an insignificant group of tiny islands - islets in fact - could cause such concern in China. Those people in China who are demonstrating so extravagantly obviously haven't a clue what they are demonstrating about - but this is exactly the sort of nonsense situation we would expect the Chinese to get up to, isn't it. With pompous politicians pontificating at podiums on their touchy feet.

I read the Chinese want to surround the islands with about 4 to 500 small fishing boats. What a funny sort of childish demonstration! What a waste of fuel! I suppose there are a few fish in the vicinity of the islands. Just hope the weather forecasters get it wrong and one hell of a gale blows up!

As a naturalised Brit in South Africa I am immensely impressed with the Chinese over this mini-minor issue! I would really have thought that there were some more rather more important issues to deal with - just marginally more important, you appreciate! (One of them being the decimation of African rhinos for their horns, the crushed horn being regarded as a magic potion in Asiatic countries. It's nothing of the sort, of course. And when there's no more rhinos, it will be lions bones).

Well, I suppose we will eventually hear the outcome of negotiations between Japan and China.

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Posted in: ANA pilots unaware for 17 seconds that plane was almost turning upside down See in context

I've now watched the YouTube video - very impressive.

Of course I should be more careful: whether flying normally or upside down, the wings still have to support the fuselage, etc. It's the direction of wing flexing which changes.

When I was responsible for the fatigue testing of aircraft structures when I worked at Handley Page in the 1950s, one of the specimens was of the main spar boom attachment to the spar across the top of the fuselage of the Victor B atom bomber/air-to-air refueling tanker, as you will. The alternating loading on the fatigue test component took into consideration the fact of the wing taking the load in both directions.

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Posted in: ANA pilots unaware for 17 seconds that plane was almost turning upside down See in context

Oops, sorry, my first post was not quite correct.

In the air, the wings are designed to support the weight of the fuselage, passengers, baggage, etc. The fuel is usually in the wings. On the ground, the wings only have to support their own weight plus engines and fuel. However, I believe that aircraft designers do design their wing structures to fly upside down, as a safety precaution. But - and this is what I forgot, it's only when flying upside down that the wings have to support the additional weight of the fuselage, etc.

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Posted in: ANA pilots unaware for 17 seconds that plane was almost turning upside down See in context

One might wonder why an aircraft doesn't necessarily break up if it turns upside down, but basically there's no reason for it to do so.

(The question of how one flies a large airliner upside down would need an experienced pilot to describe).

However, structurally, the wings and their attachments to and across the aircraft fuselage have to take the load in both directions. Thus the wings flex upwards when flying, but when on the ground they flex downwards. And that's the same load configuration you get when flying upside down.

However, with that reassurance, I definitely don't relish the possibility of ever finding myself being flown upside down!

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Posted in: Very high radiation, little water in Fukushima No. 2 reactor See in context

Zichi has hit the nail squarely on its head.

The situation is a very difficult one to deal with. One feature, of course, which will help very considerably is that all the short-lived fission products, originally present at an intense concentration, will by now have decayed, so the heat that was being produced by their radioactive decay will no longer be produced. The fission products remaining are more longer-lived, therefore their rate of decay is slowing down - a continuous process - with the amount of heat being produced continuously falling. So there's a lot less heat to have to remove, now, and, just maybe (I cannot be sure), the natural conduction of heat through the steel core vessel to whatever it is in contact with is all helping to prevent the core from grossly overheating, despite the apparently low level of cooling water.

Although lots of fission products have decayed to zero amounts, none-the-less, those remaining will still be decaying and producing high intense ionizing radiations. Therefore does rates are going to remain high for a very long time.

There's nothing clearer than that the three major reactor incidents - TMI-2, Chernobyl-4 and Fukushima Daiichi - represent three quite different scenarios, none of which were predicted in advance. At least the Daiichi scenario, like TMI-2, has not been accompanied by a massive release of radioactivity as occurred at Chernobyl-4. None-the-less, what has been released into the environment will obviously cause concern for some years ahead.

I am not going to dare to form any judgement on how TEPCO have dealt with the accident. My only concern would be to make sure that never again, ever, allow vital back-up diesel generators at any of your nuclear plants to be located in basements which can be flooded. But for that disastrous example of engineering wisdom there would have never been a problem with the Daiichi reactors. Their auto-shutdown at the time of the earthquake went impeccably.

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Posted in: Endoscope shows radiation, steam, rusty metal inside Fukushima reactor See in context

This alleged steam is causing a lot of heartache, but it's so simple, really. Assuming that there's still water in the bottom of the RPV, or in its outside containment if the RPV has been melted through, there presumably can't be a great deal wrong with the temperature measurements.

As some commenters have said, in your shower you get what we like to call steam, but which is condensed water vapour drops. It's just like clouds in the sky which can be below zero at consider-able elevations in the atmosphere.

If you put water in a cubicle and close the door, then take the temperature up to, say 40 deg.C for an hour or two for the atmosphere in the cubicle to reach its maximum humidity, open the door and walk in wearing a pair of spectacles. Instantly they will mist up as the water vapour condenses on the colder glass. So, it's no different introducing a cold endoscope into the much warmer and humid RPV atmosphere. Of course, they don't think, do they? They should have warmed up the endoscope first to about 45 deg.C before inserting it!. So, now try entering that cubicle after having warmed up your spectacles and see the difference!

If I may be permitted to digress - very naughty of me, I know, but still on the subject of so-called "steam": in the South African, and other, press, in which there are articles about airborne pollution and carbon dioxide - our favoured "greenhouse" gas - very often to illustrate the point about that airborne pollution, photos are shown of coal fired power stations, but only of the cooling towers with immense volumes of white "smoke" being emitted from them, as though that white "smoke" is gross pollution. Such photos look very dramatic, but it's all humbug. That white "cloud" is a cloud of pure condensed water droplets!!!

So, if your own Japanese newspapers try the same trick, I trust that readers will not be taken in by such humbug!

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Posted in: Workers at Fukushima nuclear plant recall desperation See in context

Concerning The Munya Times comments, no one is surely ever going to simulate the reality of a nuclear reactor accident in which all power is lost by the mightiest tsunami known anywhere for decades. The problem is on what simulated accident scenario does one actually carry out a training exercise, to teach staff what they have to do in an emergency. But unless a reactor blows up, Daiichi would appear to have taught the basic lesson across the world that there's nothing worse than losing all electrical supplies, which are essential for the majority of reactors in order to keep the reactor cores and spent fuel element pools with continuous flowing cooling water.

I would reckon when the reactor installation design was being considered, who could - even perhaps have dared to - have predicted that the largest off-shore earthquake in a subducting region would be accompanied by a huge tsunami 14 to 16 metres high, and would be likely to occur during the lifetime of the Daiichi nuclear power station?

I know nothing about the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority, and the status and professionalism of its staff, either now nor way back 40 years or more. Arguably they should be the people, in collaboration with the plant and site designers, who should have established the required criteria that needed to be complied with before construction started. From what I have read in Japanese press and TEPCO statements, what was done was nothing more nor less than what was required to provide the necessary safety features for what was believed to be the worst accident scenario years ago.

The only aspect about which strong criticism can be levelled about the Daiichi nuclear plants is that the standby diesel generators were located below ground level in basements, with nothing to prevent them from being flooded in a totally unforeseen emergency.

But after more or less 40 years of successful operation of the Daiichi nuclear plants, who should have carried out a review of nuclear safety? As I would see it, that should have been the task of the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority. It could obviously be argued that, over the four decades, someone in the TEPCO management could have thought about it and raised the issue with upper management. Maybe someone indeed did do so - who knows - but they were most likely told that there's nothing to worry about, forget about it, so they let the matter rest. It can all too easily happen.

All over the world, as a result of the Daiichi accident, nuclear regulatory authorities have been hard at work assessing their own regulations, and reactor installations, and although many recommendations have been made, I can't recall any instances where there was any likelihood of any accident occurring as it did with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants becoming a criteria for any major recommendations.

No doubt there are nuclear sites which could become inundated by floods, and any emergency diesel generators must obviously be relocated, where necessary, to be substantially above the highest predicted flood level.

Although the Daiichi nuclear plants had a seawall to protect against what had been thought to be the highest predicted tsunami - about 5.4 metres - I don't recall reading anything about release channels for allowing flood water on the site to run into the sea. I have to assume that some such feature was present in the seawall.

Very few people, as I read from the many comments to reports in JapanToday, seem to have a good word for the TEPCO management. It would be very difficult for anyone to have been able to predict all the consequences of the tsunami - loss of electrical supplies; hydrogen explosions; leakage of radioactively contaminated water into the sea; spread of contamination across a wide are of land, largely to the NE of the Daiichi site, as would be expected from the prevailing winds. Did anyone predict the strongest offshore earthquake and highest tsunami affecting Japan over the last few centuries, as I understand it? Seemingly not.

And TEPCO has already announced that nuclear plant damage at Daiichi purely from the magnitude ~9 earthquake was minimal, with all systems, including the back-up emergency diesel generators, working perfectly - until the arrival of the tsunami. That alone says something very helpful about the general approach to nuclear safety of the plants arising from an earthquake, does it not, even of magnitude 9. And, most importantly, elsewhere in Japan. The unfortunate resulting tsunami threw all the predictions out of the window.

No one at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station were killed by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami there, but I believe about 15 000 people lost their lives as a direct result of the tsunami. From the data so far provided on land contamination, no one is likely to receive anywhere near to an ICRP body burden of radioactivity, which seems to be mainly caesium that has been spread in the environment.

By far the greatest trauma was a direct result of that awful tsunami, both at Fukushima Daiichi and in the regional population at large.

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Posted in: Japan's CO2 emissions see first rise in three years See in context

realist, I'm interested in this comment of yours:

"So-called Climate Change "experts" have been spinning us untruths, based upon false data taken mostly from the past 150 years. Basic science teaches that before advancing any theory, or claiming that it is fact, you have to base your research on data taken over long time periods. Many of these climate change scientists, motivated by greed and a desire to enhance their own particular political dogma"

Well, well! There's no one worse that the coal mines for wanting to continue in business - to sell coal! And what about the petrochemical companies, suppressing electric and hybrid motor vehicle developments because they don't ant to lose out on their petrochemical products.

But wait for the day - maybe quite a while ahead - when those companies will be using solar concentrating facilities and high temperature reactors, such as the pebble bed modular reactor, to produce hydrogen energy-economically for the so-called "hydrogen economy", ie for motor vehicles propelled either directly by hydrogen in a modified combustion engine, or using hydrogen cells. It will come, and put your thoughts somewhat out of joint.

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Posted in: Japan to open Fukushima reactors to media for 1st time since March 11 See in context

It needs to be understood that the core did not undergo any normal criticality event. If it had done so, then extremely high external radiation dose rates would have been recorded. What happens is that certain nuclides of uranium, plutonium, curium, americium and other trans-uranium element radioisotopes produced during normal core criticality operations, ie when the reactor is running, have a natural, but low intensity, tendency to undergo spontaneous fission. This cannot result in any normal criticality excursion providing suitable measures are taken to ensure that boron compounds are in the cooling water to absorb the neutrons which are produced during the spontaneous fissioning events which might initiate a criticality excursion. TEPCO have taken those full precautions.

It was unfortunate that a misleading statement was initially made when xenon - I believe - radioisotopes at very low intensity were detected. A TEPCO press statement indicated that core criticality had occurred. That was wrong. The trans-uranium nuclides present to which I referred to above will have been continuously spontaneously fissioning at a very slow rate ever since shutdown of the cores.

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Posted in: Radiation likely came from radium in bottles beneath floor of empty house See in context

I suppose the cynicism is understandable, but hardly justifiable.

I presume that Japan had companies decades ago who employed workers happily painting dials with a radium paint to make them luminous so they could be seen at night time.

Someone in the house probably worked at such a firm, long ago put out of business when the reality of the radiation dangers from radium were properly recognised. No doubt staff would steal a bit of the paint for their own use - who knows what could happen before the reality of the dangers from radium were properly recognised. That's why no one would use it these days, the much safer tritium being used instead, but under far more strict radiological controls.

Radium painters in Britain would actually point their small brushes by drawing them across their tongues. Unfortunately many of them died as a result of cancers induced in their tongues and mouths.

Just look at the current problems at Dalgety Bay in Scotland, with radium particles continually being washed up on the beaches, the residues from radium painted dials which were actually burnt to dispose of them, the residues seemingly being thrown into the sea. We would regard such activities as criminally irresponsible these days, but not four or five decades ago.

So I really don't believe there's any justification to be cynical and disbelieving about the presence of those bottles in an empty house, stored away under the floor and long ago forgotten about. It happens, unfortunately, even though it's in Japan this time and not Britain.

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