Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DISGRACEFUL MEDIA: Anti-Nuclear Press Puts Japanese Lives at Risk

By Robert Zubrin

Japan currently faces a real emergency. As a result of the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, thousands of people are dead, and tens of thousands more are missing and may be trapped under rubble, severely injured, and in danger of death by thirst or suffocation. There are over 500,000 people without shelter, with a blizzard on the way, and even the as-yet unscathed could soon face death from epidemics caused by thousands of unburied corpses.

At such a time, nothing could be more scandalous than the current campaign by much of the international press to spread panic over trivial emissions of radiological material from several disabled nuclear power stations.

Let us be clear. Compared to the real disaster at hand, the hypothetical threat from the nuclear stations is zero. The reactors in question were all shut down four days ago. The control rods have been inserted, and the cores have been salted with boron. It is physically impossible for them to sustain a fission reaction of any kind at this point, let alone cause another Chernobyl. Only the fission-byproduct decay heat remains, and it is fading fast as the short half-life material (which accounts for most of the radioactivity) performs its decay reactions and ceases to exist. At this point, the total heating power in the reactors is only about 0.3 percent of what it was when the reactors were operating. That means that a system previously capable of generating 1,300 megawatts of heat would now yield 4 megawatts thermal — about the same as that emitted by a dozen 100-horsepower automobile engines. READ MORE...

- Dr. Robert Zubrin is the president of Pioneer Astronautics and the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.

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