How much radiation is dangerous?

Chart of the day.

As I noted earlier, radiation levels at Japan's Fukushima power station have reached 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour. The chart below (posted by @ gakuranman) helps put this figure into perspective. A typical chest X-ray, for instance, involves exposure of about 0.05 mSv, while a stomach X-ray involves 0.6 mSv. The annual amount of natural radiation is roughly 2 mSv; the current limit for nuclear industry employees is 20 mSv per year.

According to the World Nuclear Association, 100 mSv a year is the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is clearly evident; absorption of more than 500 mSv can depress white blood-cell levels. A single dose of 1,000 mSv causes radiation sickness such as nausea and vomiting; a single dose of 5,000 mSv would kill about half of those receiving it within a month.

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Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, those exposed to levels greater than 350 mSv were relocated. In Japan, the government has ordered everyone within 30 kilometres of the danger zone to stay indoors, and has imposed a no-fly zone around the power station. The US navy's 7th Fleet, stationed 100 miles offshore, has retreated after 17 crew members were treated for radiation exposure.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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What will Labour's new awkward squad do next?

What does the future hold for the party's once-rising-stars?

For years, Jeremy Corbyn was John McDonnell’s only friend in Parliament. Now, Corbyn is the twice-elected Labour leader, and McDonnell his shadow chancellor. The crushing leadership election victory has confirmed Corbyn-supporting MPs as the new Labour elite. It has also created a new awkward squad.   

Some MPs – including some vocal critics of Corbyn – are queuing up to get back in the shadow cabinet (one, Sarah Champion, returned during the leadership contest). Chi Onwurah, who spoke out on Corbyn’s management style, never left. But others, most notably the challenger Owen Smith, are resigning themselves to life on the back benches. 

So what is a once-rising-star MP to do? The most obvious choice is to throw yourself into the issue the Corbyn leadership doesn’t want to talk about – Brexit. The most obvious platform to do so on is a select committee. Chuka Umunna has founded Vote Leave Watch, a campaign group, and is running to replace Keith Vaz on the Home Affairs elect committee. Emma Reynolds, a former shadow Europe minister, is running alongside Hilary Benn to sit on the newly-created Brexit committee. 

Then there is the written word - so long as what you write is controversial enough. Rachel Reeves caused a stir when she described control on freedom of movement as “a red line” in Brexit negotiations. Keir Starmer is still planning to publish his long-scheduled immigration report. Alison McGovern embarked on a similar tour of the country

Other MPs have thrown themselves into campaigns, most notably refugee rights. Stella Creasy is working with Alf Dubs on his amendment to protect child refugees. Yvette Cooper chairs Labour's refugee taskforce.

The debate about whether Labour MPs should split altogether is ongoing, but the warnings of history aside, some Corbyn critics believe this is exactly what the leadership would like them to do. Richard Angell, deputy director of Progress, a centrist group, said: “Parts of the Labour project get very frustrated that good people Labour activists are staying in the party.”

One reason to stay in Labour is the promise of a return of shadow cabinet elections, a decision currently languishing with the National Executive Committee. 

But anti-Corbyn MPs may still yet find their ability to influence policies blocked. Even if the decision goes ahead, the Corbyn leadership is understood to be planning a root and branch reform of party institutions, to be announced in the late autumn. If it is consistent with his previous rhetoric, it will hand more power to the pro-Corbyn grassroots members. The members of Labour's new awkward squad have seized on elections as a way to legitimise their voices. But with Corbyn in charge, they might get more democracy than they bargained for.