But They Forgot to Mention ...
You have a right to be surprised; to provide a point of comparison, during the cleanup of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the 1980s, 134 "liquidators" were diagnosed as having radiation poisoning, and 28 of them died within two months of the accident. On the other hand, over a year after the Fukushima disaster, the number of workers who have died from radiation poisoning is ... zero.
Not a single worker has died from radiation-related causes, and in fact none of the workers have even shown symptoms of radiation poisoning. But what about the report from the workers that they were prepared to die from radiation poisoning? Well, that claim came from a single worker who yanked his hypothesis straight out of his ass and told his mother about it, who then passed it on to reporters. That's right -- all the news reports you heard about Fukushima workers expecting to die within weeks or months literally stemmed from the claims of one worried mom.
"They're not even cutting the crusts off his sandwiches! It's barbaric!"
But that's just short-term risks. Surely we can expect to see that Big C asshole popping up over the long term, right? Probably not. A panel of experts found that the average cancer risk for the workers is 0.002 percent higher than the normal population. Even the most exposed worker (who received a dose of 670 millisieverts, over twice the emergency limit of 250 mSv) only has a 6.7 percent higher chance of getting cancer.
So why all the panic? Well, the effects of different types of radiation are difficult to explain to the layperson, and when you have the queen of the Uruk-hai (aka Nancy Grace) belching out a cloud of undiluted, pants-shitting sensationalism, it's easy to see how misinformation can spread so quickly. But while the press had a field day comparing the accident to Chernobyl, in reality it wasn't nearly as bad. As a matter of fact, Japanese officials are already starting to permit people to return to their homes and businesses, and looking back now, it turns out that the workers were never really in much danger.
Wall Street Journal
Except from Godzilla.
Now, don't get us wrong -- each and every one of those workers is a hero and stood tall in the face of disaster. But why not reward them by gaping in awe of their badassery and not by looking at them with solemn pity, waiting for the next one to keel over?
When he's not selling toxic waste dumps to children's hospitals, Chris writes for his website and tweets. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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