Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Predicting the 60 MInutes Fukushima Story: Guest Post by James Greenidge

Natural Gas facility fire
After Tohoku Earthquake
Photo is labelled:
 "Disaster at Fukushima" 
On April 6, CBS 60 Minutes planned to broadcast a segment about the ghost towns of Fukushima. Meanwhile, on April 4, ANS Nuclear Cafe blog was featuring a blog post about Vogtle construction progress. However, the moderator at the ANS blog made a comment on the ANS Vogtle post. The moderator wanted to give readers a heads-up about the upcoming 60 Minutes Fukushima program.

James Greenidge answered the ANS notification with his own comment. Greenidge graciously gave me permission to use his comment as a guest post.

I quote below from the ANS Nuclear Cafe comment stream.
ansnuclearcafe | April 4, 2014 at 14:46 |

60 Minutes video and story preview: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-returns-to-the-ghost-towns-of-fukushima/

James Greenidge | April 4, 2014 at 16:46 |

It will be the usual suspects of token and low-grade so-called nuclear consultants, and I’m sure CBS didn’t ring ANS or NEI or pro-nuclear blog pros for some cool calm reasoned insights. I vouch that this 60-Minutes broadcast will be somberly grim, with lots of flashes of tsunami damage and quake oil facility fires interspersed scenes of the nuclear plant in coyly tacit blame, and constant assertions of how “no one sane” can homestead here again or eat anything for generations or hundreds of years. There’ll be lots of scary bunny suits and water tanks leaking forever and crying babies being Geiger scanned.

Cosmo Oil Explosion in Japan
From Wikipedia
There will be no comparative background rad rates with other areas around the world and there will be less stress that a super-rare earthquake incited the incident and instead more of an undertone that there is something inherently flawed in all nuclear reactors behind the event which would’ve occurred eventually anyway.

There won’t be any public or worker mortality rate comparisons with other industries and there won’t be any mentions as to old-designed reactor robustness containing three meltdowns in a row when the media has long predicted that just one is Doomsday, and the report will mute down that no one was killed and attribute that to divine luck.

They will lump every nuclear plant that exists as clones of Fukushima and you have one which just can’t wait to blow in your backyard. The show will end in a desolate looking pan of the Fukushima ghost town and landscape that is implied lost for a thousand years and maybe a sly glimpse of a windmill in the corner.

Then afterwards ask whether CBS did a _fair_ and non-alarmist accurate job or just suave cautionary FUD.

Hope I’m not a suspense spoiler!

James Greenidge
Queens NY


I didn't watch the CBS show, but I suspect Greenidge predicted accurately.  Reader comments invited!

Speaking of comments, you might enjoy the comments stream on the original ANS post, including  comments from me and more from Greenidge.


grittysoap @ hotmail.com said...

Irish citizen here. While I haven't seen the media, perhaps you guys in the US could do more in the way of fact checking the statements made in the show and therefore serve as stoking the discussion up.

As someone who's edited wikipedia before, (you can check out my fact checking done to the article "fallout RTE drama") all you need is a reliable source(something other than a blog) and you can at least educate folk who are interested in learning more and finding out if the statements made really are correct.

So, while I hold your general sense of cynicism towards the way the media cover these kind of stories.
Moaning about it won't change things, you have to blow their wild claims out of the water, otherwise the wishy washy fear mongering will just continue.

Important characters to thoroughly engage and retort, are those made in the "peer review" world are Joseph Mangano and Tim Mousseau.

At least attempting to redo their "experiments" and statistical "treatments" would do no end of justice to those who find both teams work interesting and worthy of fact checking/debunking.

Mitch said...

Jim G didn't have to be spot on. Being in the ballpark was close enough.

That was a nuclear-hit piece with zit to say to put the victim's and Japan's fanatic fears on radiation in proportion and nothing positive to say about any nuke. You almost think that the nuke put away that poor guy's kid the way it went -- or maybe that's their hint. The media gets called out when they fudge reporting sports and politics so why not on nukes?

Because they got a anti-nuke agenda!

Anonymous said...

Good comments by poster grittysoap. Almost all legitimate scientists discount Mangano. His methods are questionable at best. I don't know about Mousseau. But guys like these get a lot of mileage in the mainstream press because of the content of their "message". The media laps it up because fear sells. FUD will always be more popular than careful reason and logic, which goes over as dull and uninteresting to the layman. So the FUDdites get a lot of press based on emotion. But, as you say, moaning about it will not gain much yardage.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "Almost all legitimate scientists discount Mangano. His methods are questionable at best. I don't know about Mousseau."

Timothy Mousseau is a frequent collaborator of Anders Pape Moller, who was censured for faking data in one of his studies. It was no small omission -- his scientific misconduct became a cause celebre since he was a highly regarded scientist. He has stepped up his anti-nuclear work since then, perhaps seeking rehabilitation in the eyes of an activist public.

Their studies typically survey deformed plants and insects in nuclear zones (TMI, Chernobyl, etc.) and imply they are mutations caused by ionizing radiation. Although I am not familiar with all of their work, the studies I have read made little effort to control for non-radiation mutagenesis, or to account for expected levels of deformity.

As rising stars in the anti-nuclear science cottage industry, they should be subject to the same scientific scrutiny we give to Joseph Mangano or Arjun Makhijani.

-- dogmug

Mitch said...

It's not moaning if you call out people in the nuke business like ANS and NEI who are supposed to also help push it to the public to do a lot better job! Workers at VY and SONGS got a bad taste of what it's like not even getting moral support to keep a plant open. You should go down fighting but nuke groups don't even try. BP Gulf did and won back and kept jobs.

Anonymous said...

Mousseau is just another anti-nuclear activist pretending to use science to create evidence for his activism. Dr. Patrick L. Walden has a solid analysis of some of Mousseau's work if you're interested in more detail.