Another thing is this - and I'm a right wing pig here if you'd like to call me that - USSR as bad as it was it took responsibility for the Charnobyl catastrophe. There was Army and the Government involvement on all levels to clear it up from day 0. In Japan years after the incident the Government is still finger pointing some CEO trying to operate that facility. I hate that because this is precisely one of these things that gives capitalism very bad name. And what is the Japanese Government there for? To come up with lies about how radiation is good for you now? How pathetic!
I have far worse things in mind.
> USSR as bad as it was it took responsibility for the Charnobyl catastrophe.
The most horrific aspect of how it was handled was that they didn't tell anyone. They desperately tried to keep it quiet. They didn't even tell the people doing the emergency work what they were actually doing, many of whom sacrificed their own lives without knowing anything.
You could have had evacuations, people simply getting out of the way themselves, but no, there was silence. Only when it was clear that they couldn't keep things under wraps, did they own up to it. By that point, it was too late.
I was five at the time, living in Kiev. I remember being in kindergarten and I remember they rounded everybody up and told us they were going to take us away, an evacuation. But then they cancelled it. Nobody knew what was happening or why. Eventually my mom came home early, but she didn't know what was happening, only that something was happening. It was days before we found out and moved to stay with our relatives further north.
Wikipedia seems to support my memory of the event.
"The general population of the Soviet Union was first informed of the disaster on 28 April, two days after the explosion, with a 20 second announcement in the TV news program Vremya."
I'll take the Western approach to things. Capitalism and all. I don't care who's to blame or who goes to jail. I want to know so that I can protect myself.
Just so HN readers know… this ^ quote is total bullshit.
The USSR did not take responsibility or implement good clean up from day 0; at all. They lied/covered up as much as they could, for as long as they could, endangering their own land, people, and economy. Chernobyl is historically regarded as a propaganda clusterfuck and a major economic, civic, and political failure of modern history.
I could argue a number of this guy’s points, but the specific claim that the USSR excelled at “taking responsibility” and implementing an institutional clean up/response “from day 0”, is the polar opposite of all existing historical and scientific fact.
The historical fact here is that the USSR’s response to Chernobyl was horribly botched, heavily manipulated by propaganda, and that the public was extremely uninformed of the context, causes, and consequences (both immediate and future), of the disaster.
The response was swift, yes, but dangerous, uninformed, and unorganized. Even the military/emergency crews and government employees/engineers first sent in to respond to the disaster, were lied to about the specifics and risks of the incident. For civilians in the USSR, there was a total information black out for the first 2 days. Most citizens gleaned only limited facts/information, days and weeks later, largely via rumor or from international media. Effective institutional response (from inside the USSR) and more accurate reporting only arrived after much international pressure and media attention. The major civilian backlash at the falsehoods and failures of Chernobyl, and the extreme financial expense of the disaster, was one of the final blows in exposing and crippling the Gorbachev regime.
[Source: I'm an environmental historian and science teacher]
To expand on this point, if Fukushima were Chernobyl and Japan the USSR, the Sarcophagus would have been completed on October 27th, of 2011. Two years ago.
(By no means is that structure a fine piece of engineering, but considering the constraints I find it hard to fault them for that.)
In effect, Fukushima already had a sarcophagus integrated into the structure of the building in 1971, 6 years before Chernobyl even started running.
I don't mean to suggest that Japan should build a sarcophagus; I only mean to give an idea of the sort of timescale for significant engineering tasks that the Soviets were working with. They slammed it into high gear pretty rapidly.
So while I think that Tepco did make horrible mistakes, I am actually not sure that the response was less than optimal. Largely because the USSR did commit similar mistakes in Chernobyl, for example not registering the liquidators.
Well, the common knowledge is wrong. We are surrounded with background radiation every day.
This natural background radiation is not harmless, as the effects
of high exposure to cosmic background radiation (e.g. by frequent
trans atlantic flights) or high radon levels in homes or local soil
on cancer incidence have shown. [85, 86, 87, 88] It can be assumed
that a certain proportion of the 'naturally' occurring cases of cancer
are caused by constant exposure to 'natural' background radiation
"There have been no acute radiation syndrome fatalities reported due to the Fukushima accident, while approximately 18,500 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami. Future cancer deaths from accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none."
So why are we talking about the radiation here? The effect is meaningless in comparison. Why aren't we talking about what to do about tsunamis?
Future cancer deaths from accumulated radiation exposures [...] are predicted to be extremely low to none. Yes, but I find the paragraph in the source 
Even the worse case scenario — a dose of 50 mSv — poses a fairly minimal risk.
However, the models showed that infants living in Namie could have got a higher
dose to their thyroid, of 100–200 mSv. That higher dose would be due mainly to
radioactive iodine-131 blowing from the plant immediately after the accident. Brenner
says a dose of 200 mSv to a female infant under a year old might mean a 1% risk of
developing thyroid cancer over her lifetime (by comparison, the lifetime risk in the
United States is 0.02%).
So I think that a argument can be made for nuclear energy, but this argument should not be "no one will ever know we killed her. <evil laughter>" The argument should include sentences like :
[...] My offers were such as to give me a risk equivalent to that faced by an American soldier
in World War II, according to my calculations of plutonium toxicity which followed all generally
accepted procedures. These offers were made to all three major TV networks, requesting a few
minutes to explain why I was doing it. I feel that I am engaged in a battle for my country's
future, and hence should be willing to take as much risk as other soldiers.
Tsunamis are not much of a disaster without man building and living along the coast where tsunamis may strike. The circumstances of the disaster are just as much man made as the radiation.
Source: I visited Chernobyl and Pripyat in April.
No, I think it was overall a waste of human life. The situation could have been handled far better by putting out the fires immediately -- those were spewing toxic, radioactive smoke into the air. After that, however, instead of attempting a coverup, the first priority should have been evacuation. Once people were out of harm's way, there would be time for planning a safe, careful cleanup effort.
Because of the poor design, which lacked of secondary containment, some deaths in the initial firefighting might have been unavoidable, but the death toll was unnecessarily high, all for the sake of saving face and hoping that things could be covered up.
Our guide pointed out a piece that some idiot had brought up from the highly irradiated basement.
The cleanup operation wasn't much better - men cleaning nearby reactor roofs in 45 second shifts and heavy lead aprons because the radiation was too bad for a fleet of robots to function.
japan is not a cute fuzzy pet culture limited to anime and sushi. it's an insular island culture that's just as bad as anyone else in history. it's too bad it takes a full-blown nuclear disaster for people to realize this.
More than the far right that wants to paint Japan's past in a rosier light, the problem with Japan's government is Japan's culture: They don't want to do anything without consensus from everyone, which pretty much never happens period. This is a big reason for their stagnation.
You should also be looking at the atrocity angle from a global perspective: Right now apologies and compensation are being demanded all around not because they haven't already been given (they have) or because they were insufficient (they were accepted) but because China, South Korea, and Japan all hate each other at the moment and are bickering like children, in no small part due to all three being in a nasty phase of nationalism and using territorial disputes to antagonize one another.
It's easy to denigrate just about any government, and right now current events are making it laughably simple, but that doesn't mean every accusation you hear on the news is true or even provided in context.
the hilarious thing is the aforementioned two groups are vehemently anti-each-other.
GUESS WHAT. east asian interests don't align with your western ones.
Uhhh, no: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_...
Stop listening to Chinese and Korean (both North and South) propaganda.
i know it's tough seeing your favorite pet country in this light. but it's the truth.
I don't see how this has anything to do with capitalism. I just can't read it that way no matter how I look at it. I've worked extensively with Japanese companies. It's a cultural and political problem. Nothing else.