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What IS the media bias?

I got enough responses to my bit about preparing to resist radiation that it occurs to me to wonder, is the media really working so hard to inflame panic? Or are they trying to keep us from panicking so that we will all just go to the mall and buy movie tickets instead of concerning ourselves with radiation? I have no idea what the media is up to, because aside from this outward mental spew I participate in it very little. I do not watch TV. I do catch a few minutes of NPR from time to time, and last I heard was some expert saying that the situation at the plant there has surpassed the level of the Three Mile Island meltdown. That was enough for me to know that radiation has already been emitted. I'm not panicked....but I'm interested. These ARE interesting times. I'm fascinated, in fact, with the homogenaity of the responses I've gotten. So everybody thinks it is a hoax? What is informing you of this certainty? And what makes you so sure you are right? I'll have to wait for my other bit a media---a weekly called The Week---before I will have any more media hype to pass on.

Comments

ford_prefect42
Mar. 17th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
Background: I am an engineer, not a nuclear engineer, but I have studied nuclear topics in some detail including some specifics of reactor design. Also, I have been following this quite closely and have learned quite a lot during this incident.

I don't necessarily think that the media is *biased* on this issue, just profoudly poorly educated.

Japans problems are well past TMI. But there is still absolutely no cause for concern in the us and only minimal cause in Japan. Here's why.

Okay, saying "radiation has been released" is *meaningless*, it provides absolutely *no* information. Take for example the empty spent fuel ponds. spent fuel is a gamma emitter, but is chemically stable and doesn't melt down or fission. That means that when the pool goes empty, it becomes dangerous to approach, because the water shielding is gone, but presents virtually no danger to the environment because while it is irradiating the area, it *isn't* releasing radioactive *isotopes*.

The unpleasant part of the spet fuel pools is while the rods are *partially* underwater, during which time they *do* release some radioactive gasses, but those isotopes have very very short half-lives. so while it *can* be somewhat hazardous for a few miles downwind, it *never* poses a serious long-term threat or any threat at long distances.

Far far more dangerous would be breached and exposed cores. That's because the isotopes present only in the cores (strontium, caesium, like that) but that hasn't happened, nor will it, the core containment on any non-russian reactor is a remarkably robust structure, and while one of the ones in Japan is classed as "compromised", but there's a *huge* space between compromised and "breached". Additionally, there are other safety measures that have not come into play.


Additionally, the rare occasions on which the media reports have provided any solid facts (isotope measurements, actual radiation measures, like that) support my lack of concern. The highest readings reported to date at the plant gate are of the "if you stand here for a few weeks, it's the equivalent of a CT scan" levels.

There reeeeeaaaallly really is no cause for concern in the US.
liveonearth
Mar. 17th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
Awesome, thanks for your educated response!! Can never have enough engineers around. =-]

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