British scientific adviser: nothing to fear outside of Fukushima exclusion zone
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The British Embassy in Tokyo on March 15th invited the Government’s Chief Scientific Professor, Sir John Beddington, to answer deep and difficult questions related to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Sir John Beddington replied and gave detailed information about the most likely outcome and his opinion about events which have been reported in the press.
This article is based on the questions and answers which were given. Therefore, it is hoped that people will listen to Sir John Beddington and heed his advice because a lot of information and disinformation appears to be going around and this is adding to the confusion of Fukushima.
The Japanese government implemented a 20km exclusion zone from the Fukushima nuclear plant and for people who reside between 20 and 30kms the advice was that people should keep their windows closed and stay inside.
According to Sir John Beddington this advice is proportionate and appropriate to the current events in Fukushima. Therefore, he is vindicating the Japanese government and the answer and question session will now be scrutinized in greater detail.
The First Minister at the British Embassy in Tokyo, David Fitton, was the moderator during the teleconference which took place with Sir John Beddington.
David Fitton started by commenting that it was important that people listened to the views of an expert and his fellow colleagues because it helps the British Embassy in Tokyo to express much needed advice. He also acknowledged that guidance was also being provided by Japanese professionals but stressed that guidance in the United Kingdom was important “on scientific, nuclear, geological and other issues.”
Sir John Beddington immediately focused on the crux of the matter and he stated that “the Japanese are trying to keep the reactors cool by pumping sea water that will keep the temperature down; that’s their first line of defence. And up to now that’s been working… reasonably well. Basically the reactor lies within a large containment vessel. But if it isn’t cooled particularly well, then the pressure in the containment vessel goes up and it reaches a level where it can’t cope.”
Sir John Beddington continues by stating that “At that stage the Japanese authorities deliberately release a mixture of steam and hydrogen gas and so on into the atmosphere. This is really quite modest amounts of radioactive material and it’s not likely, by and large, one shouldn’t be concerned about it.”
He continued by stating that events had changed because one of the containment vessels appears to be somewhat cracked but the situation remains mainly the same. Sir John Beddington also commented that the outcome of containing this situation led to“very limited amounts of radioactive material going out.”
Sir John Beddington agreed that the 20km exclusion zone was adequate but he did add that 30km would be extremely safe. However, it is clear that he believes that the 20km exclusion zone is “sensible and proportionate.”
He then talked about the worst possible outcome and scenario if a “meltdown” actually happened. Sir John Beddington commented that this would be serious, but, importantly, he stressed that this would only be serious for the local area surrounding the nuclear plant in Fukushima.
Even if a meltdown occurred and you had an explosion then the nuclear material would reach roughly 500 meters into the air. If you add this, he continued, to negative weather conditions which blew into the direction of Greater Tokyo and then rainfall would bring it down then would this then create a major problem?
Sir John Beddington was clear about the answer because he stated “The answer is unequivocally no. Absolutely no issue. The problems are within 30km of the reactor.”
After this he commented about Chernobyl and how the situation was much more dramatic because radiation from this nuclear plant lasted for months but even then the 30km exclusion zone was adequate because people outside of this had no problems with radiation. He also stressed that the problem with Chernobyl was because people kept on drinking the water and eating vegetables within the area of contamination.
Sir John Beddington stressed “…what I would really re-emphasise is that this is very problematic for the area and the immediate vicinity and one has to have concerns for the people working there. Beyond that 20 or 30 kilometres, it’s really not an issue for health.”
Many other questions were asked and answered and a link to the entire transcript will be given at the end of this article. However, at all times, it appears that the British point of view is that Tokyo is very safe and the same applies to all areas outside of the exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear plant but 30km was mentioned to be extremely safe, therefore, the exclusion zone may be added if developments become severe and meltdown actually happens.
Please read the entire transcript at the above given link.
The British Embassy in Tokyo http://ukinjapan.fco.gov.uk/en/