The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan resulted in complete loss of power at six Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants. Three plants were in operation and immediately shut down and the other plants were in refueling status. Thousands were killed or missing as a result of this natural catastrophe, but news media focused on the nuclear issues of these plants that resulted in no known public deaths. Fuel melting in the damaged plants did occur, and containment systems did release radioactive products to the environment. Large land areas around these plants are contaminated with radiation levels above normal background. Yet these radiation levels have not resulted in any known harm or long term adverse health effects, and a year after the accident, these levels have reduced significantly. Why is the media so hypersensitive to any radiation release? There is no substantial evidence that low levels of radiation (within two orders of magnitude above background) are harmful. Paradoxically, there is evidence that low levels of ionizing radiation are actually beneficial known as radiation hormesis. Until public attitudes and regulations are corrected the public will continue to exhibit irrational fear about radiation and any industry associated with nuclear energy.
- Nuclear Engineering Division
- Power Division
Fukushima: What Impact on Radiation Regulatory Conservatism?
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Sandquist, GM, Kunze, JF, & Wells, EJ. "Fukushima: What Impact on Radiation Regulatory Conservatism?." Proceedings of the 2012 20th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering and the ASME 2012 Power Conference. Volume 1: Plant Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Modifications, Life Cycle, and Balance of Plant; Component Reliability and Materials Issues; Steam Generator Technology Applications and Innovations; Advanced Reactors and Near-Term Deployment; Reactor Physics, Neutronics, and Transport Theory; Nuclear Education, Human Resources, and Public Acceptance. Anaheim, California, USA. July 30–August 3, 2012. pp. 835-844. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICONE20-POWER2012-54926
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