In a previous post, I fingered Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute as the right's propaganda go-to guy on the Japan nuclear disaster. Heartland is YET ANOTHER industry front group pushing libertarian guff.
Flip through the recent book Merchants of Doubt
(which mentions Heartland prominently) if you want to know Lehr's true agenda.
Hell, even Wikipedia tells the story:
In the 1990s, the group worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public health reforms. More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the scientific consensus on climate change, and has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics.
Philip Morris used Heartland to distribute tobacco-industry material, and arranged for the Heartland Institute to publish "policy studies" which summarized Philip Morris reports... The Heartland Institute also undertook a variety of other activities on behalf of Philip Morris, including meeting with legislators, holding "off-the-record" briefings, and producing op-eds, radio interviews, and letters.
For their anti-smoking efforts, the Heartland guns-for-hire received money from Big Tobacco, while ExxonMobil paid for the efforts to raise doubt about global warming. When the family behind Wal-Mart kicked in $300,000, Heartland (without disclosing the funding) came out with propaganda defending Wal-Mart's treatment of workers. Our beloved media duly published these "objective" reports, no questions asked.
For more on Heartland and similar propaganda groups, you may want to read a 2005 article titled Sock Puppets of Industry
. As for Lehr himself: He is known not as a scientist nowadays but as a "motivational speaker."
(Back in the '60s and '70s, he had a reputation as an expert in ground water hydrology.)
He was editor of "Rational Readings of Environmental Concerns," which labels all environmentalists as "extremists" and "alarmists" among other things.
Get the picture?
Good. Now tell MSNBC and other major media outlets to get the same picture, because they love
Someone should also tell MSNBC that Lehr went to prison for committing fraud against the government
. He was also kicked out of his professional organization.Here
we have Lehr in his natural habitat, Fox News:
I can tell you with the utmost confidence there will not be a health impact of anything that is going on at the Fukushima power plant.
So why was the area evacuated? Why were most of the 800 workers told to go home? UPDATE: Why did the last 50 workers leave just a short while ago?
is there, isn't a meltdown inevitable -- and hasn't the environment been contaminated already?
But a total meltdown has only occurred at Three Mile Island back in 1979. That was a disaster of a nuclear plant considered 10 times more serious than Fukushima. And the rods actually did melt down, fell to the floor of the reactor building. And they only melted five-eight of an inch into five inches of steel before they cooled and the situation stopped. And as you well know, there were no health impacts from Three Mile Island.
"No health impacts"? That's questionable. Some say that the experts who made that determination had the same "lack of bias" that has made Heartland so famous. We'll address that issue at another time.
As some of you may be old enough to recall, back in 1979, there were a lot of guys like Lehr who hopped in front of the teevee cameras and cooed sweet words of reassurance: "Everything under control; nothing to see here. Smile and be happy." (Saturday Night Live
did a great spoof of this propaganda campaign; too bad it's not on YouTube.) The TMI-2 reactor experienced the meltdown. TMI-1 remains in operation to this day, and will continue to work until 2034, at which point the entire place will be decommissioned.
If you're old enough to recall 1979, here's a question: Do you
recall seeing any video of huge explosions or fires at TMI-2? You never saw such footage, because nothing went boom.
We've heard a few booms in Japan lately.
So on what basis can our relentlessly unbiased friends at Heartland say that TMI was "ten times" more serious than Daiichi? How do you measure such a thing, especially at this stage of the game? Why does no other internet source mention this "ten times worse" figure? (Go ahead: Use Google to double-check.)
If Jay Liar is right -- if he may be considered an "objective" authority -- then why does France's ASN nuclear agency say that the Daiichi catastrophe is actually worse than TMI?
Go to this page
and scroll down. I take the liberty of reproducing here a map of the area (click to enlarge) showing
...the maximum expected radioactive iodine hazard regions around the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant, if TMI's containment vessel were ever to catastrophically rupture. 320 miles (the outer ring) is the expected maximum zone of where a high cancer risk could occur in a radiation emergency...
The map certainly commands one's respectful attention. Not only does the high-risk area include the seat of the American government, it also includes the location where I currently plant my own humble rump.
Keep in mind that Tokyo is only 150 miles from the Daiichi reactor. Radiation there has climbed to ten times
normal levels. Foreign banks have pulled employees out of the city, and Austria has moved its embassy to Osaka.
So here are the basic questions: How can one say that the TMI event was "ten times worse" if the containment was not ruptured? And to what degree have the containment buildings been ruptured in Japan?
Disturbingly, the media will not give us a straight answer on that key question. The NYT will say this
...Tokyo Electric would probably try to spray water into the reactor building through a gaping hole in the wall blasted open by an earlier explosion.
To this layman, that sure sounds like a rupture of some
At least 750 workers were evacuated on Tuesday morning after a separate explosion ruptured the inner containment building at Reactor No. 2 at the Daiichi plant, which was crippled by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.
So we have two
ruptures, plus damage to the third and fourth reactors.
From the Irish Times
Radiation risk: reactor's protective containment vessel may have been damaged
The International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged the reactor’s protective containment vessel might have been damaged.
If the containment has failed even partially, then radiation could escape.
Uhh...I thought we had established that it had
failed, at least partially.
Go to Google News, type in the word "containment," and you'll see many decidedly non
-straight stories about whether the containment units have been breached.
First, let's go here
Now GE's technology is facing the ultimate test: Can the structure enclosing the reactor keep the hot, radioactive stew bottled up inside? And can the spent fuel pools withstand a combination of explosions and equipment failure?
Now, from a day earlier
NucNet, "The Nuclear Communications Network," citing the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), reports March 15 that following the explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, "damage is suspected to unit 2's inner or primary containment vessel (PCV)."
The lack of a clear answer indicates that there are a lot of Lehr-types on the ground, doing everything they can to keep the hoi-polloi in a haze.Michio Kaku
, whom I trust one hell of a lot more than I trust the well-paid liars from Heartland, says that we have not yet passed the point of no return. Nevertheless:
* 3 reactors have suffered partial meltdowns.
* These three reactors also suffered hydrogen gas explosions
* A fourth unit has a nuclear waste storage site on fire (which can in principle release more radiation than in a standard reactor core).
* Almost all workers, except for 50, have been evacuated. Once all the workers are evacuated, full scale melting is inevitable.
* Unit 2 actually had 100% of its core fully exposed, for about 2 hours. Worse, cracks seem to have formed in the containment vessel, which may be the source of the very high radiation levels.
* Unit 3 uses MOX fuel, which contains some deadly plutonium, one of the most dangerous substances on earth. The utility keeps saying that things are stable, only to see things worsen. This "stability" is the stability of hanging by your fingernails.
If things get any worse, Kaku suggests entombing the reactors in a concrete sarcophagus. That's what the Soviets did at Chernobyl. Naturally, the right-wingers are spewing a lot of hate toward Kaku.
The aging Mark I
containment design has long been a point of controversy. As far back as 1972, insiders worried that these units might not contain a meltdown. Guess what? There are lots of Mark I containment units
in use today in the United States.
The primary disadvantage of the Mark I seems to be its relative thinness. Twenty-three U.S. reactors have the Mark I shell, the paper reports. The closest Mark 1 shells to Baltimore are on two reactors at Exelon's Peach Bottom plant, just over the Pennsylvania line on the Susquehanna River, about 50 miles away.
Of course, southeastern Pennsylvania is not part of an earthquake zone...
Oh really? What about the Ramapo Fault
, which runs under PA, NJ and NY? (I don't yet know if there are nuclear plants along that fault which use the Mark I design.)
Please don't accuse me of spreading panic. I'm asking practical questions. The people who do the most to spread panic are the ones who force the public to become ultra-cynical about authority. In the long run, the "science mercs" employed by Heartland and similar organizations train us all to mistrust everything we hear from "experts" in the media and government.