Potassium Iodide and Nuclear Weather

As the BBC reports, a nuclear survival online retailer nukepills.com, received 3,800 orders for potassium iodide (mostly from American citizens) in just 18 hours following the Fukushima disaster. The interest, however, is not limited to ordinary folk– even state governors have contacted the supplier. The idea that one might survive exposure to radiation thanks to a pill– a ‘nuke pill’– is a powerful one, far more powerful than potassium iodide’s actual capacity to stave off the negative effects of radiation.

The search for potassium iodide in countries where there is zero threat of contamination from Fukushima is telling: for people are stockpiling the pills as they would stockpile rations in anticipation of a natural disaster. Nuclear disasters are today viewed as Continue reading “Potassium Iodide and Nuclear Weather”

Fukushima Daiichi: Making Atmospheres Explicit

It has now been over a week since the ‘double disaster’ earthquake-tsunami combination ravaged the northeastern region of Japan and the full scale of the tragedy remains as of yet unknown. As rescue crews and aid workers make their way to the affected region, increased media attention in North America is being turned to the ‘Fukushima Fifty’, a group of unknown workers struggling tirelessly to prevent a nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, about 80 km south of Sendai and 250 km north of Tokyo. As soon as the nuclear troubles began, media sources began making comparisons with previous disasters: would this be another Three Mile Island? Another Chernobyl? And panic began almost as quickly. In Japan, whose history with nuclear fallout now runs back almost seventy years, the level of concern was perhaps understandable, especially given the proximity of the reactor to large urban centres and the quick escalation of the situation in the early days. What is perhaps more curious, however, is the level of panic in North America. Continue reading “Fukushima Daiichi: Making Atmospheres Explicit”