Radiation At Fukushima Twice As High As Reported Immediately After Disaster

fukushima nuclear power plant photo

photo: Derek Visser/Creative Commons

You probably could've guessed this: New York Times reports that immediately after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was stricken by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, radiation levels at the plant may have been twice as high as officially reported.

[Japan's nuclear regulatory agency] said it now estimated that the radioactive release from the plant totaled 770,000 terabecquerels in the first week after March 11. The agency had previously estimated 370,000 terabecquerels released in the first month.

The agency suggested that the higher emissions estimate was equivalent to only about 10 percent of the radioactive materials released in 1986 by the explosion and fire at Chernobyl, still widely considered the world's worst nuclear plant disaster, in the former Soviet Union. But the 770,000 terabecquerels figure in fact comes to about 40 percent of the official Soviet estimate of emissions from Chernobyl.

Given the general level of confusion when it came to communication in the days after the disaster, and the subsequent sequential upgrading of the severity of the situation, did anyone really not expect an announcement like this.

I said it at the time, and I'll say it again: Just from a monetary perspective, if we're willing to spend billions and billions to build new nuclear power plants, when the consequences of accidents is so great (however small the risk), wouldn't it be better to err on the side of caution? Take a different road and spend all the money deploying renewable energy sources, developing the requisite transmission and storage technologies concurrently?

More on the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Fukushima "Worse Than Chernobyl" When It Comes To Oceans
In Light of Fukushima, Switzerland and Germany Say No More Nuclear (Video)