John Watson in The Age:
Now the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has drawn on 80 scientists from 18 countries to produce a draft report that concludes: “Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima–Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.”
The committee has had two years to build a fuller picture of radiation dosages (measured as mSv) and impacts. It finds most Japanese in the first and second years were exposed to lower doses from the accident than from natural background radiation’s 2–3 mSv a year.
This “perfect storm” hit a nuclear plant built to a 50-year-old design and no one died. Japan moved a few metres east during a three-minute quake and the local coastline subsided half a metre, but the 11 reactors operating in four nuclear power plants in the region all shut down automatically. None suffered significant damage.
Nuclear power is much, much safer than people think. There are of course risks for the first responders, but in that sense nuclear power plants are no different from coal power plants or any number of other industrial setups that society has deemed acceptable risks. (Nuclear power is also far more sustainable than coal power and, watt for watt, emits 100 times less radiation into the environment than coal.)
(Via Thomas Tuegel.)