Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

It's Radioactive! It'll Kill Us All!

Once again I'm amazed at the media's ability to make anything radioactive sound like it will kill everyone around. A story in the New London Day breathlessly describes the radioactive hell that is Subase New London; I especially like this paragraph:

The accidental releases stemmed from ship discharges, spills, contaminated clothing and equipment such as tool bags, vents found outside radiation-control areas, improper work practices and a variety of other mishaps. The highest release, of 27,000 pico-curies of radiation detected on a sailor who left a secure area without first going through decontamination procedures, occurred in October 1989. The report describes all steps taken to respond to the various releases.

Wow... 27 thousand pico-curies! Anything in the thousands must be bad, and I don't know what a pico-curie is, but it sounds radioactive, so it must me really bad! I wonder if the Navy actually put out the facts surrounding the case in pico-curies, which is not the normal unit you'd use... in all cases other than paint chips, you'd normally use "micro-micro curies", which is the same thing as a pico-curie (10 to the minus 12th curies)... but honestly, which sounds more ominous: "micro-micro" (small-small), or "pico" (which most people don't know). I'm not sure if it's intentional, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is...

Going deep...


Blogger ninme said...

Go on, be honest. You glow in the dark, don't you.

6/02/2005 5:15 PM

Blogger Xopher said...

Read "How to Lie with Statistics", need a bigger number. They could have said micro pico curies, that would have given 27,000,000,000. Of course, might be a little suspicious.

6/02/2005 5:58 PM

Blogger Chap said...

"1000 (rubs hands together)...
500 (wipes hands on pants)...
Less than (mumble) (holds hands out)..."

6/02/2005 8:24 PM

Anonymous Gunner said...

I read the article, and didn't find it to be nearly as inflamatory as you felt it was.

Printed, the article is three pages long, and the "offending" paragraph is a whole five lines (and it's buried almost exactly in the middle of the article, not exactly where you put something you're trying to highlight...)

Let's look at some other things said in the article:

" "I'm satisfied things are being adequately addressed" " - the EPA official overseeing cleanup.

"The base does not contain any disposal sites for nuclear waste."

" "In general there does not seem to be a big problem here" " - the director of the Radiation Division of the DEP.

Personally, this is my favorite quote:

"...low levels of radiation occur naturally in the environment..."

IMHO, The New London Day tries very hard to present the "good news" of the military while still doing solid journalism. Sure, they could have put the radiation level in context (i.e., "This amount of radiation could have caused serious health problems if it had gone undetected, which is why the sailor should have gone through decontamination in the first place.")

6/03/2005 6:27 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

That's the thing. 27K mickie-mikes of skin contamination really isn't enough to cause any health worries (other than the always present danger of genetic effects, but you can get that from cosmic rays). Bob Hamilton normally does a good job, but I think The Day as a whole is more that capable of going overboard at the drop of a hat whenever "nuclear" is mentioned...

6/03/2005 9:06 AM

Blogger skiishark said...

Hmmm! lets consider the source the New London Day. Small little newspaper trying to hang onto something to call news. beavis and Butthead moment Snark! He/She said Pico! Snark! Small words for a small mind

12/16/2008 4:35 PM


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