Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kotlikoff and Stanley on Japan and the reactors

"The authorities have serially indicated that exploding reactor housing is not a big problem,
that released radioactive steam is not a big problem,
that the significant cracks in containment vessels are not a big problem,
that burning spent fuel ponds are not a big problem,
and that the contamination of food and water is not a big problem.

...What’s already occurred is horrible enough,
what with death and severe injury to plant workers and the contamination of local milk,
spinach, beans, and, presumably, fish.

...this at a site just 150 miles from Tokyo’s 14 million inhabitants,
whose water is already showing traces of radiation.

...When it comes to earthquakes,
what we’ve recorded to date is a minute span of geological history.

...Four of the nine largest quakes to strike our planet since 1900
have occurred in the last seven years.

This list doesn’t include Japan’s 1995 Kobe earthquake,
which was, until now, the costliest on record.

...[No one] knows the statistical distribution governing earthquakes of different magnitudes.

...the probability of extremely powerful earthquakes and their attendant tsunamis
may be much higher than we think.

Case in point -- the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan
was 10 times bigger than the maximum quake the builders of the Fukushima plant
considered possible.

...Thanks to Chernobyl, an area the size of Switzerland,
or 16,000 square miles (41,000 square kilometers), is uninhabitable for the next 300 years.

Japan is about nine times bigger than Switzerland."

Laurence Kotlikoff and Eugene Stanley

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