Economist reports Fukushima post mortem

See here.

The fact that Japan organised a prompt evacuation, provided iodine pills and kept radioactive material out of the food chain means that experts expect Fukushima to have a negligible public-health effect, at least in terms of radiation (stress, fear and being removed from one’s home are forms of harm less easily measured). Less widely acknowledged is how well safety procedures for the staff in the plant appear to have worked. According to Mr Masui, not a single worker at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant received a radiation dose of more than 250 milliSieverts, the raised limit for emergency responders set by government dispensation. That is five times the maximum annual dose for a nuclear worker, but it is well short of what is seen as a serious health risk. Given the circumstances—the lack of instrumentation, the explosions, the power outage, the psychological pressure, the possibility of bereavement and so on—the disciplined behaviour needed to avoid really bad exposures has been impressive. There is undoubtedly a lot wrong with the culture of Japan’s nuclear establishment, and various plants have had well-chronicled safety lapses. In this particular case, though, at least one part of the safety culture of the sorely tried workers seems to have held up remarkably.


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