Is the main stream media able to report on a nuclear accident?

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According to the Media Research Center30 million Americans rely primarily on television for their news, basing their opinions about domestic and international events and newsmakers on what they see and hear in those broadcasts.

Given this fact, the issue of media bias or distortion is clearly a matter of enormous importance.

Poor mainstream media coverage of Japan’s now months-long struggle to gain control over the Fukushima disaster has deprived Americans of crucial information about the risks of nuclear power following natural disasters.

Both regulators and utilities alike have complained of the inadequacies of modern reporters to effectively cover a nuclear disaster, largely because the terminology or understanding of the processes are less than accurate.

The DailyMail released an article this week that seems to highlight the predicticable trend of reporting on the Fukushima disaster taking place in our MSM.

The article is titled,

New radiation treatment lets workers survive ‘fatal dose’ – even AFTER they’ve been exposed


Lets start with the headline, which is radically different then the facts of the case.

First off, there is no available treatment out on the market, this is a lab test, and must go through extensive research and testing before it can be used.

Secondly, “lets workers survive ‘fatal dose'”… a more sensible approach would be to use the correct terminology, which would have been ‘lethal dose’, and while the semantic difference might not make much of a difference to the layman, the interpretations are greatly different.

[toggle_simple title=”Deterministic effects vs Stochastic effects” width=”600″]

From the biological effects of radiation on human body, radiation effects are generally divided into two categories: “Deterministic effects” and “Stochastic effects”.

Absorbed dose is a physical quantity to measure the radiation energy absorbed by unit mass of substances. Under normal circumstances, the larger the absorbed dose, the larger will be the hazard.

The unit of absorbed dose is Gray, whose symbol is Gy.  The level of measured or predicted dose at which a particular countermeasure (i.e. intervention during a nuclear accident) should be introduced is known as the “Intervention Level”.

Countermeasures, which always involve costs and risks, should be justified in the sense that they should do more good than harm. Their form, scale and duration should then be optimized so as to maximize the net benefit. Intervention levels are established in quantitative terms by the processes of justification and optimization.


It is mainly accidents outside the nuclear stations where this research might one day become useful, where workers are directly exposed to, or internalize contamination at high levels. Most examples would include industrial radiography accidents and irradiator accidents.

The article in reality is about a product that scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston are still testing in the lab, but the author repeatedly tries to incorporate Fukushima into the story.

“The discovery could help treat workers who have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation in the wake of nuclear disasters, such as the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daichi plant.”

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The article leads in by targeting the Fukushima workers, and mislabels the research project as a “recent breakthrough in treating radiation poisoning“, despite the fact that the only tests being performed are on mice.

The biggest questions remain unanswered, both at Fukushima, and at the lab, and while we all hope that this research is fruitful, and might one day lead to advances in radiation protection and post exposure treatments, it is highly unlikely that the research will be available to workers for years, if not decades.

The article appears unfocused and the author seems to bounce sporadically from research to disaster, without any sense of respect for the situation workers face daily at the crippled nuclear power plant.

Three of the four photos provided in the article are in reference to Fukushima, including a photo of recently hospitalized former Fukushima nuclear plant director Masao Yoshida.

Showing the Fukushima nuclear plant director Masao Yoshida is misleading and has nothing to do with this type of treatment.

In closing, the article does little for helping establish the authenticity of the research being performed in the lab, and even worse in describing the possible applications for such radiation treatments.

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