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This is about the level of Cornwall, isn’t it?

Five workers were cleaning pipes at the system filtering wastewater for release into the sea when two were splashed after a hose came off accidentally, according to a spokesperson for operator Tepco.

Two others were contaminated when they were cleaning up the spill, the spokesperson added.

The radiation levels in the two hospitalised men were at or above 4 becquerels per square centimetre, the threshold which is considered safe.

“We’ve been told the condition of the two workers being hospitalised is stable,” the Tepco spokesperson said.

Actually, perhaps we should start using “the Conrwall” as our measure of radioactivity. If someone who knows their maths – as all know, I do not – would care to produce a little table for us? This water at Fukushima in Cornwalls, natural uranium in Cornwalls, a thermonuclear bomb in Cornwalls…..

15 thoughts on “This is about the level of Cornwall, isn’t it?”

  1. Are you seriously suggesting that a Cornwall replace a banana or a Brazil nut?

    Anyway the Scottish Parliament won’t adopt a Cornwall, it’ll insist on a Grampians.

    A moan: the units in which I learnt radioactivity stuff have been replaced so I’ve lost my intuition for the numbers. Consequently I applaud your interest in analogies.

  2. I do sympathise BiP.

    The damn units they give for radiation these days are truly confusing. No doubt that’s the reason they’ve been modified.

  3. Imagine still being scared of an industrial accident that happened in 2011 and still hasn’t killed anybody due to radiation.

    More people will be mudered in London today than died in the Fukushima disaster.

    Progggies have an entire Necronomicon of completely nonsensical Fears, Bogles, Hobgoblins and Phantasms they enjoy scaring each other about, like children telling ghost stories.

    Be not afraid tho. We are not given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of lions.

  4. “The confirmed death toll from the Fukushima disaster is as follows: (Wikipedia, so beware)

    1 confirmed death from radiation (lung cancer, 4 years later).
    2,202 deaths from evacuation.
    There were no deaths caused by acute radiation syndrome. However, many deaths are attributed to the evacuation and subsequent long-term displacement following the emergency mass evacuation.”

    Bit like Covid, then. Cure was worse than the disease.

  5. Can’t really tell from the unit they used…

    4Bq/cm² = 4 pips per second/cm² is about the level of Glowy Stuff I worked with in the lab way back when.
    For that level… Alpha no worries, Beta *could* be nasty, depending on the energy involved, Gamma Bad long-term.
    And all dependent on whether or not the culprit gets absorbed by the skin, or stays on top of it.

    That whole received/absolute dose v/s absorbed/equivalent dose..

    It’s just a thing you can’t express in Cornwalls with the info given.

  6. ooohh… wait.. Cornwall itself puts a number of 200 Bq/m³ at 1% of domestic properties, and calls that Bad.

    Let’s go with that.. umm.. gods… take 1m³, surface of the cube is 6×10^4 cm², distribute evenly..
    That’s 0.003 repeating.. , but generally less… say a Cornwall equates to 0.0025Bq/cm²

    So they got hit with roughly 1600 Cornwalls.

    Which tells us they got hit with stuff *before* the filters did their job, because a conservative estimate of the dosage from the fukushima water puts it at best at ~2-3 Cornwalls before dilution. ( when it should become about 0.0007 Cornwalls.)

    Disclaimer: Napkin-fu… ymmv, etc…

  7. Radiation dose – how much you have received – is a normal sort of measure. Measured in Sieverts.
    UK you might expect to get 2.3mSv (0.0023 Sv) a year. If you live in Conrnwal it’s about 3x that.
    A full body Cat scan gives you about 30 mSv.
    You might expect a report on how much radiation they received.
    NB In march 2 workers were taken to hospital for monitoring having recevied a dose of around 250MSv.

    The Becquerel (Bq) is a measure of radition emissions per second.
    Bq/cm2 is a wierd one. Best I can work out a “normal” human has a skin area of 20,000 cm2 and emits at a rate somewhere in the order of 1,000 Bq. So 0.05 Bq/cm2.
    4 Bq/cm2 across the entire body would therefore represent something like 80 times normal. 80,000 Bq in total. (or 25x Cornwall I guess).
    But it is surely going to be much more localised than that unless they fell in?
    Overall unhelpful but superfically sciency sounding journalism probably pitched to terrify not inform.
    About par for the Grundy.

  8. Correction!
    *NB In march 2 workers were taken to hospital for monitoring having recevied a dose of around 250mSv.

  9. “1 confirmed death from radiation (lung cancer, 4 years later).”

    If he was a non-smoker I’ll believe it. If he was a forty-a-day man, how could they tell?

  10. “ The radiation levels in the two hospitalised men were at or above 4 becquerels per square centimetre…”

    This is nonsense.

    In the two men? They swallowed the water?

    The becquerel is the unit of radioactivity, (not absorbed dise) being decay of one nucleus per second – too small for biological effect. 4Bq doesn’t seem a whole hill of beans. Four nuclei decaying per second is hardly Hiroshima.

    To calculate biological effect would require calculating the Equivalent dose according to a formula taking into account the activity, plus the tissue type, and length of exposure.

    Presumably, they immediately got hosed down to remove contaminated water, stripped and showered. It’s hard to see how they could have received any health threatening dose – unless they swallowed it or swam in it.

  11. @Grikath: “Beta *could* be nasty, depending on the energy involved”

    It’s pretty much all beta from tritium in the water. 5.7 keV on average according to Wikipedia. Won’t usually get through the epidermis, so only really a problem if you swallow some.

    @BC: “1 confirmed death from radiation (lung cancer, 4 years later)”

    I’d be surprised if lung cancer could go from 0 to fatal in 4 years. Given the way the Japanese smoke, I’d expect a more conventional cause.

  12. 2,202 deaths from evacuation.

    I call bollocks on that, too; unless there’s video of people falling under buses and being shot for non compliance. That’s an inferred figure based on wobbly assumptions. And to be fair any evacuation comparison should be made against what would have happened to people had they not evacuated. That’d be wobbly assumptions too, but it is known there have been examples of damaged and mutated animals in the zone. There are enough John Fettermans in the world.

  13. Some bloke on't t'internet

    @ SBML I believe the answer to that is somewhere in the order of 20k, yes 20,000.
    And of course, what all the “OH MY GOD, NUCULAR BAD” folk conveniently forget is that vast areas of land were left contaminates with all sorts of non-nuclear nasties – fuels. oils, chemicals, salt, rotting carcasses, you name it and it’s probably there. That’s a massive cleanup job.
    But we do have to remember that the Japanese have a history with nuclear that thankfully no-one else does. So whether we think it’s sensible or not, we should allow them a bit more leeway with their concerns than we would with most others.

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