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« Greens try to get scientists removed from select committee | Main | Why? »
Thursday
Jul312014

Beddington honoured

BH favourite Sir John Beddington has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. I kid you not.

Sir John Beddington, the former UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (Kyokujitsu Chu-Jusho) from the Emperor of Japan.

The award was apparently prompted by Sir John's advice to the British Embassy and UK expats in Japan after the Fukishima incident.

...Sir John participated in four telephone conferences during which he provided information and engaged in Q&A sessions with both embassy staff and UK citizens in Japan. Transcripts and recordings of the conversations, along with other statements, were published on the embassy website for public view and made available through social media. This allowed people to hear directly of any possible implications and understand what constituted the “reasonable worst-case scenario.”

I wonder which of the teleconferences got him the neck ribbon?

Joking aside, I remember the calm official response to Fukishima from the UK, which was a welcome antidote to the hysteria from the green media blob, so one can hardly argue with the recognition.

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Reader Comments (18)

An apposite award for a solar proponent.

Jul 31, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

I would speculate that it has nothing whatsoever to do with Hitachi Nuclear UK.
But I also generally support nuclear power, so I may be biased. ;)

Jul 31, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

To those with honours, will come further honours.

Jul 31, 2014 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Perhaps HMG should hand him the Order of the Boot?

Jul 31, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

Well, the British Embassy seems to have changed dramatically since the 1999 Tokai-Mura nuclear accident in Japan. Mixing up nuclear fuel by hand with buckets can lead to a criticality? Who would have guessed?

I was within the 10 km shut down zone of Tokai-Mura and the Embassy couldn't have been more arrogant and nasty.

They didn't want to know you if you hadn't registered with them... they just said listen to the Japanese news. They also said they would have sent a fax if you had registered and had a fax machine. This was the news that the Japanese Government were breaking out Iodine tablets, Clinton was offering troops, the local public loudspeaker network had gone from 'all is calm' to 'get indoors now, stay indoors, shut all windows, use bottled water and if you have been out in the rain... well, you shouldn't have'. Imagine that with 2 small children and a pregnant spouse.

Next morning their phone was on voice mail. Found out later because 'nobody was on duty' and everybody was tired. Totally helpless and uninterested. I heard later from the department head that they had got the accident news from Greenpeace.

Mind you these were the same clowns who were on television a few months later apologising profusely for scamming the Japanese government with falsified data on the nuclear waste reprocessing contract.

The Aussie, French and US Embassies spent the time ringing around all their citizens they knew of in the area, asking for details of other citizens that might be around and doing excellent follow up work

Very disturbing to see the tv scenes the next morning of a fleet of empty trains at the local station in case a mass evacuation was needed, and the one time that the Brit Embassy needed to care for its citizens it just viewed them as an encumbrance.

It looks like they might have changed somewhat.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered Commenteryoungdoug

No award for me then. I was advising my son's friends in Tokyo what they should do and they greatly appreciated my advice to ignore the hysteria, to stay put and not to panic.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

youngdoug - no surprise there, the British Government has never particularly cared for British citizens. Even in the WW2 Blitz Londoners had to threaten riots before the authorities reversed their decision not to allow the use of underground stations as shelters.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I see that Bedders' first degree is in Economics. How would that help him give "advice to the British Embassy and UK expats in Japan after the Fukishima incident". Unless it was "Run like buggery".

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

"I wonder which of the teleconferences got him the neck ribbon?"

Don't play down these, especially with the transcripts being put online and use of social media. It sounds a very professional approach.

It's not that those affected are necessarily frightened of Nuclear Power (I was and am a supporter), it's the lack of knowing and the potential secrecy which is terrifying. Especially with the then Japanese gov lying out of principle.

Having said that, the local gov workers were true heroes. The emergency services hadn't been supplied with anti-radiation gear (the area had, I think, 16 nuclear institutions...upgraded to 17 when they discovered the bucket mixing one). Without gear, volunteers took it in turns to dash in to the accident area to try to turn the tap that drained the tank feeding the reaction. They succeeded. Very brave.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered Commenteryoungdoug

It is a sad mind set that alloows the mere mentiion of nuclear to allarm so much of the populace.
This, the safest major way to produce electricity.

In my early career I helped develop nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR as it was called.
Then the propagandists moves in and it became rebadged, as in medical MRI.
Even though no radioactivity is involved

Honours deserve to be given to those who call a spade a spade
No propaganda talk please. We are awash in it.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

"...they greatly appreciated my advice to ignore the hysteria, to stay put and not to panic."

In Tokyo yes, for sure. The problem was, as you suggest, the lack of even semi-reliable information. The authorities hadn't even known that this nuclear fuel place even existed.

I learn later from Japanese friends who worked in the industry there, that the local radiation rise was detected but nobody knew where it was coming from. People were ringing each other up saying 'It's not us, is it you?'

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commenteryoungdoug

youngdoug: I don't understand your comment. I was talking about Fukushima, not Tokai-Mura.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well, the British Embassy seems to have changed dramatically since the 1999 Tokai-Mura nuclear accident in Japan. Mixing up nuclear fuel by hand with buckets can lead to a criticality? Who would have guessed?

Yes, that was amazing. Has there been a subsequent criticality accident anywhere since then?

After that, I wondered what would be the next Japanese nuclear fiasco. Organisations behave consistently. If the quality is crap in one area, you can be sure it is crap in other areas and it will eventually come to light. Fukushima confirmed it - no emergency plan, no dosimeters available, playing what to do with coolant-free reactors by making it up on the spot. They were still hesitating about flooding the reactors with seawater "because they could not be used after that" when it was apparent even to me at the other side of the world that the reactor cores were already molten.

It's a fact of human frailty that even if a system with the highest quality standards is put in place, it degrades as time goes by.

Mind you these were the same clowns who were on television a few months later apologising profusely for scamming the Japanese government with falsified data on the nuclear waste reprocessing contract.

That too was amazing. The BNF (?) technicians falsified measurement data so they could watch porn (or whatever). Perhaps more discraceful, nobody in BNF was analysing the figures they produced, so it was left to the Japanese customer to notice that the data was fake.

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Would that make Beddington: OBE WON K NO B of (the Rising Sun=) STAR WOREs

OK...I'm going now!

Jul 31, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

If the Japanese nuclear facilities were built on the other side of the country they would all still be working. comes from not talking to a geologist in the planning stage.

Jul 31, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

So by just doing your job you're in line for a Kyokujitsu Chu-Jusho?

Jul 31, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

@John Marshall

I'm not sure this has anything to do with geology (I'm a geologist).

The Fukushima plant is situated on a tsunami-prone coast. There is ample historical evidence that severe tsunami occur regularly. Placing your emergency backup power supply in a tin shed on the beach is an engineering, not a geological issue.

I live in Tohoku, regularly visited the Miyagi coast pre-tsunami, and have been back since. Standard reinforced concrete structures withstood the tsunami perfectly well. I have a photo of a 6 story apartment block, reinforced concrete structure with block infill/walling. Stories 1-4 have been cleaned and cleared of everything, and all the residents died. Stories 5&6 remain intact and the residents survived. I'm not going to post that photo.

If the backup power systems (plus adequate fuel supply) had been placed in perfectly conventional reinforced concrete structures, the Fukushima crisis could have been avoided. The blame should be cast on engineering management for failure to analyse and allow for knowable risk. There was an equivalent tsunami in about 1890. The Indian Ocean tsunami should have woken people up. Instead, engineering management were asleep at the wheel, all the dials set at five, waiting for retirement and the pension to arrive.

Jul 31, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

@John Marshall: the nuclear plant could not be built in the West of Japan because they have two grids, and the eastern grid needs the power.

Jul 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterturnedoutnice

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