One of the most disturbing phrases I’ve been seeing in the media over the past year is “the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl”. This phrase bothers me on a couple of levels. First, it is sad to think about the disaster in Fukushima- it is a horrible tragedy. But, also, there is something very nefarious about this phrase- it’s a deception to make people think that what happened in Fukushima is not as bad as it is…
The phrase, or a version of it, was used by the media immediately after Fukushima occurred- before the media knew the magnitude of what happened at Fukushima. At that point, the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) hadn’t released the fact that there the containment vessels had melted through in three different reactors. But later, as the truth was released to the media, it quickly became obvious that the disaster at Fukushima was much worse than what happened at Chernobyl.
According to Arnie Gundersen, a world-renowned nuclear engineer, there are a number of key differences between the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima:
- The Chernobyl incident involved only a single reactor. At Fukushima, there were three damaged reactors.
- The Chernobyl reactor was running at 7% capacity. The Fukushima reactors were running at 100%
- Chernobyl quit releasing radiation into the environment after three weeks. Fukushima is still releasing radiation almost a year and a half later.
- Fukushima has precariously balanced spent fuel pools that are at risk of collapse. There were no spent fuel pools effected by the incident at Chernobyl.
- Chernobyl was in an area with a relatively low population. Fukushima is less than 200 KM from Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world.
According to Gundersen, the incident at Fukushima is up to ten times worse than the incident at Chernobyl- over time, the total number of casualties could reach one million. And, there is still room for the problem to get worse- if one of the fuel pools collapses, it could be at least ten times worse than it is today.
So, when the media tells us that Fukushima is “The worst nuclear Accident since Chernobyl”, the real story is that Fukushima is “The worst nuclear accident in the history of mankind.” Any media outlet that is trying to tell you differently is trying to cover-up the truth. Remember, the media loves to sensationalize stories- any time that they don’t you can be sure that they are being influenced not to do so.
The nuclear energy industry is one of the world’s largest consumers of public relations firms. They have put an incredible effort into making us believe that their energy is safe, and many people in the media have fallen for their lobbying. Considering this, how media outlets report on Fukushima is a good litmus test for how easily they are swayed by the lobbyists.
So, I’ve done a quick search on Google News and looked-up who is still using this misleading phrase. Let’s look at some of the culprits who have used it in the past couple of weeks:
- On August 16th, The Guardian called it “The largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl”
- On July 24th, the CTV television network called Fukushima “The world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl”
- On July 23rd, Salon.com called it “The world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl”
- On July 22nd, Bloomberg called it “The worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl”
- On July 22nd, the Wall Street Journal called it “The worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl”
This is only a small sample of the culprits. The list of news outlets that use this deception is so long that I could share 1000’s of citations of this deception. So, I leave it to you to remember this phrase, and keep in mind that any member of the news media that is telling this to you is questionable in their honesty.
I will be contacting each of these publications and asking for them to explain themselves. If any actually respond, or if they change their ways, I’ll keep my readers updated…