The latest update on Fukushimi Daiichi is that the fire is out at the #4 unit spend fuel cooling pond and that there’s no more evidence of breach of the torus or suppression pool in the containment structure in reactor #2. The core of the #2 reactor was fully exposed for hours yesterday, but now the water level is up to half of the core height.
NHK TV is reporting that the fuel rods for reactor 4 were removed from the core and stored in a holding pond in the building. The explosion and fire there blew two 8 meter square holes in the side of the #4 reactor building. The last reported temperature in the pond was 84 degrees C (up from a typical 40 degrees). It sounds like issues with the cooling ponds are manageable, but who knows if the skeleton crew left at the plant can manage the pools and the issues with the 3 reactors.
The BBC is reporting that the IAEA has upgraded the scale of the event to level 6, one below the worst, Chernobyl level of 7, and the second worst nuclear disaster in history.
Every morning I wonder what new fresh hell awaits Japan. They clearly need tax cuts.
Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy
Good news about the fire being out, as that would seem to be a far more serious threat than the reactors (as long as containment holds). It does seem troubling that they are having such problems with the water level in 2. It seems that some portion of the rods have been uncovered for a good part of at least the last 24-36 hrs.
Better yet, use it as an excuse for the Galtian overlords to take away things that help the average person (see last line of this article).
I just read an article that covered some of the other impacts of the disaster. It mentioned that Toyota, Honda and SONY have been forced to temporarily halt production. The article also stated that stores far away from the disaster area are running out of stock and that the impact on Japan’s rail system was so severe that millions of commuters can’t get to their jobs.
I’m going to borrow from cermet here and point out that losing the coolant in a candu reactor would not have these results; since the coolant is the moderator that permits nuclear reactions to occur, losing the coolant stops the reaction. Despite this, they are designed with other means of stopping the reaction in case something unforeseen should occur. They also operate at far lower pressures than light water reactors, and are able to use a wide range of nuclear fuels, as they were initially designed to be able to allow the use of natural uranium, including thorium and decommissioned nuclear weapons.
You can read more about candu reactors at its wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candu
Ya think? He, Larry Kudlow and Lloyd Blankfein should be dropped into reactor #4 as an offering to mother nature. WTF is wrong with these people?
Joey Maloney a/k/a BadExampleMan
So on the one hand the situation is improving but on the other it’s the second-worst level disaster ever? Glad that’s cleared up.
Just read an article by Greg Palast, primarily focused on the backup diesel generator systems. He said that it’s entirely possible that water didn’t drown the generators, but rather that they failed because, in his experience, testing of those things is often faked.
I don’t oppose the death penalty per se. I oppose it because I don’t understand why it’s not applied fairly. “Fairly” would include executing anyone who helped conspire to fake an operations test of a backup safety system at a nuke plant.
Over dinner tonight in our home in Japan, my Japanese father-in-law rendered his verdict for the CEO of Tokyo Electric Power…seppuku. Same for the former ruling Liberal Democratic party politicians who enabled them for all those years. The underlings are to be sent into the breach and told to work at the Daiichi Reactor site amidst the growing radiation releases. He’s a harsh man.
But the questions are beginning. What did they know and when did they know it. Heads are going to roll. Tokyo Electric Power is about to reap the whirlwind, and well they should. They failed miserably. This isn’t baseball, you don’t get three strikes. One and your out. You can’t fuck up ever with a nuke plant and you don’t get to use an earthquake or a tsunami as an excuse. It doesn’t flush to toss up your hands and say “what could we do? it was a big quake.” The industry has assured the public they could handle anything. They didn’t. Time to shut them down. Put a surcharge on electricity and pump the funds into solar research and create a roadmap that ramps down nuclear energy. There is no choice. This is madness.
Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods
Second worst. And this was the one that everyone, from the deniers to the sensibly cautiously optimistic, said, “Nevagonahappen. Everybody chill the fuck out, we got this covered.”
Is it too late to have “Godzilla” nominated retroactively for an Oscar in the documentary category?
@liberal: I posted some before/after pictures of this plant yesterday. Check those out. I’ll buy tsunami destruction based on those photos.
@magurakurin: Regarding seppuku, I have been thinking for a couple of days now that it is rather likely that we will see a number of people do it. Given my quite limited knowledge of Japanese culture, I hadn’t wanted to speculate, but it seemed likely to be a part of the fallout. I would hope that people who simply happened to be on duty when the shit came down and did their level best to fix it do not feel the need to do it.
sorry doesn’t buy them a pass. They should have had a second and third waiting at helipad with a giant chopper ready to put it in place. Oh, that’s not practical? Then neither is nuclear power. 99.9% safe just doesn’t cut it. It’s the ultimate zero-sum game here, and we just lost, big time.
I absolutely think we will see some suicides, and soon. The CEO of Tokyo Electric Power has only appeared once on tv and briefly at that. He has yet to apologize, and that is a big no no here. I would not be surprised in the least if he offs himself. Yeah, the shit is going to hit the fan big time. People are fucking pissed, but they are keeping it aside for now until things gets settled. It’s just how people roll here.
@polyorchnid octopunch: CANDU reactors are not without their problems, the two biggest of which are: heavy water is very expensive, and the core of the reactor has to be rebuilt every 25-30 years.
Pigs & Spiders
The reaction that this is getting in the political sphere and in the science/engineering community seems a world apart. The facts remain that the plants were not ever designed or tested to quakes of that strength or tsunamis of that size, and not just because no one considered it a possibility. Yet despite that, these facilities have not failed in any catastrophic manner and all manners of containment (not coolant) have performed admirably. Yes, you’re going to have a big cleanup process and a non-functioning nuclear power plant at the end of this all. But you had a massive seismic event and tsunami, so you were going to have those things anyway! What you don’t have is an environmental disaster like the BP oil rig. If anything this was a huge test for nuclear and so far it looks like it’s going to get a passing grade.
Just in case people want to see coverage again:
Asahi Shimbun – http://www.facebook.com/AJW.Asahi
Government Quake information via Kyodo http://www.47news.jp/feature/government/earthquake/
Some people I’m following on twitter. All are Japan based bloggers who are trying to give real time updates from Japanese news sources:
Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations, Director of Global Communications at Prime Minister’s Office of Japan:
Pigs & Spiders
@PeakVT: I’m not a CANDU proponent, but it’s worth pointing out that the lifespan of pretty much everything except maybe a coal-fired power plant is shorter than that.
@magurakurin:Without being to morbid on the topic, I would also hope that those who are in positions of responsibility and choose to commit suicide stay on the job until the crisis has passed before doing anything.
@PeakVT: Yes, heavy water is very expensive… and so is the core rebuilding. It’s the reason why they aren’t more widely used. Newer plants designed by AECL have longer times between the core rebuilds… and that is offset somewhat by the fact that spent fuel can be removed from and new fuel inserted into the reactor while it is operating.
But all that’s just money. I wonder how the people living around those plants in Japan would be feeling about that taking on those expenses if you asked them now?
As the saying goes… TANSTAAFL.
Supposedly they were at ground level or lower and I read somewhere that electrical junction boxes or some such are in a basement.
Yes, I agree.
I read something about the aftermath of Chernobyl and it’s truly terrifying. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated. Hundreds of thousands of people died of cancer. The Soviet Union forced workers to clean up the mess after the meltdown and they all died. You will not be able to grow healthy food in the area for the next 300 years. People still inhale radioactivity. Even today, radioactivity levels of central and eastern european soil is higher than usual. And there was a noticeable rise in miscarriages, deformations and children born with down-syndrome even in Germany.
Magnitude 6.2 quake has just hit Shizuoka.
@magurakurin: I’m just responding to the possibility that the generators weren’t really destroyed by the tsunami. It looks like they were, which means that the seawalls weren’t high enough.
@Pigs & Spiders: The take-home from this incident so far seems to be that there needs to be some better convective/passive cooling mechanisms to remove residual heat after reactor shutdown and that plant blackout contingency plans need to be re-examined. And it also makes me suspicious about the safety systems of 40+ year old reactors, since the Fukushima II reactors, built in the 80’s, were able to achieve cold shutdowns.
@Pigs & Spiders:
A passing grade, eh? So what they got a C-? Are you interested in buying some beach front property in Fukushima prefecture? I hear it’s going real cheap and there is no to worry because the nuclear reactor that is lying in rubbles after a series of hydrogen explosions received a passing grade from the scientific community. Whatever. Remember when committing seppuku it is important to have someone standing by with a sword to take off you head to reduce the suffering.
bro, there have been magnitude 6 earthquakes happening like every hour for the last two days. And the 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s are going of like cheap hookers at Portland’s Rose Festival. They’re like non stop.
@Pigs & Spiders: Where are you getting this nice news? The officials were saying one of the reactors did fully fail – maybe they are backing off since a massive release of radiation from the holding pond in #4 can be used to excuse the huge radiation leak – last night they said the pressure in one reactor fell to atmospheric by an uncontrolled release meaning, as I understand the word, that the main containment vessel did in fact fail. While I agree that the vessel did not melt open but rather (I hope) just blew some piping – the vessel DID NOT perform as designed nor did any of the backup systems.
Again, hope you are correct but your claim goes against all reports so far – again, your source for this news?
What level of earthquake was this reactor designed for because, so far, no one I have read says a word on this – if you mean the 9.0 level I would agree fully if that level had occurred there but last I saw in the Times was in the seven range and I have always been told (Is this false?) that they are designed not to fail in the seven range. Maybe this estimate has been revised.
I agree that, so far, BP was worse and may kill more people but if this is a passing grade, an F is a star student.
Those words said, the crew are hero’s and lets not forget that radiation levels have been deadly (75 min. exposure was a lethal dose) yet the crews stayed and fought the fires, failures and are saving what’s left of the plant.
Chernobyl did not have a containment structure and the explosion was right inside the reactor vessel so that all the fuel was vented directly into the atmosphere. That is a lot different then this situation.
@Pigs & Spiders: If the second largest nuclear accident with failures such as we are seeing is a passing grade, I’d hate to see the devastation required for you to fail a nuclear power plant. Putting nuclear power in the way of the Ring of Fire doesn’t seem very bright to me.
It’s wonderful, clean energy, right? Well, excepting the hundreds or thousand years of radiation poisoning spewed all over the place. Cancer, miscarriage, etc., etc. The Japanese have dealt with it before, so apparently it will be ok this time too?
I am having a hard time understanding why the rose-colored glasses are stuck on your head. Maybe I am just missing your point altogether. It certainly seems that we are interpreting the same set of facts in wildly different ways.
That’s in Fukushima. This is Shizuoka. Closer to Tokyo.
Those guys/gals that are sticking around to fight this amidst potentially insane levels of radiation and fires and explosions need medals of whatever, a ginormous paycheck, and lifetime health coverage above and beyond what they get in Japan. True heros, in my esty.
Pigs & Spiders
@mistermix: Don’t get me wrong, I think that a lot will be learned from the reactors at Fukushima I & II, what worked, what failed, what could have worked better, etc. But you designed a car to protect a passenger in a 75 mph head-on collision, and then you went and put it in a 100 mph collision and then dropped it off a cliff and passenger STILL survived, albeit with some broken bones, I call that good engineering.
reports this morning on the leakage would suggest that the skeleton crew has probably already received a lethal dose. Those people stayed knowing it was probably going to be a death sentence. They were certainly ready to pay the price for the decisions that were made by the guys in suits earning all of the profits.
Seems obvious they are going to have to send in replacements soon. And its probably a suicide mission. I’m all for sending in the CEO and his immediate lackeys, but they are probably not qualified to deal with the crisis. This is where the ‘laborers’ gets to pull himself up by his bootstraps and ‘earn’ his government paid health care and pension.
@Pigs & Spiders: The initial operating lifetime of BWRs and PWRs is generally 40 years.
@Omnes Omnibus: “Too morbid”, not “to morbid.” I hate committing an error that happens to be one of my own pet peeves. Please pardon the interruption.
Amerikan reactors are based on submarine designs and are very high energy density and can not nor ever will be capable of handling lost of coolant flow, much less coolant. It is a stupid design for a civilian reactor. Besides the far, far safer Candu, the NRC has developed passive cooled designs what they are lower performance and not as cost effective (like our designs save money – ask Japan that question in another year.) Maybe (But it will not happen) we will have people fight for a really safe, non-high energy density reactor and pigs will fly – those things cost more to operate and bring in less money due to less electric generating potential per pound of uranium.
Yes, the people who stayed, I believe there were 50 today, are brave indeed.
And how in the fuck is this a passing grade? Seriously.
A report from the Plain Dealer last year told how problems at the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo (where I grew up)were worse than expected – and they already knew about several issues.
IIRC, previous stories from the Toledo Blade reported that maintainence logs had been faked. If you want a fun read, scan Davis-Besse’s Wiki page.
Pigs & Spiders
@Cermet: You seem to have a misunderstanding of the facts. Core containment was not breached according to every report I’ve seen. The suppression pond was breached and some secondary radioactive materials did leak, but those will dissipate naturally and rather rapidly. Is it good that they leaked? Of course not. Are you exposed to as much radiation every time you board an airplane? Of course you are. None of this is GOOD and no one is suggesting that the plant’s design was perfect. But this is not a zero-sum game and in light of the situation, so far, the reactor containment has done its job.
The bad news is a radiation leak. The good news is, wine is an effective preventive of radiation sickness. So take your medicine.
@Pigs & Spiders:
You know what P&G? Peddle your fucking wares elsewhere, cause I ain’t buyin’. If is so fucking fine and dandy why don’t you hop on jet and head on over to land a hand?
@Pigs & Spiders: I’d say the seemingly endless extension of operating licenses for US plants should probably be re-examined, and most of those plants should be closed, and I consider myself a proponent of nuclear power.
Also, Mark I containment has apparently partially failed at #2, according to the latest reports. So that technology, which has been questioned for a long time, probably needs to be viewed with great suspicion.
Finally, no matter what the details, the release of radiation so far is way over design limits. That’s an engineering failure.
I used to work in nukes (contractor, US Navy reactor training, 30+ years ago). Even with that, there’s a lot going on here that I don’t feel terribly confident to comment about.
But, I’m sorry, WHY THE FUCK WAS THIS THING PLACED SO GODDAMN CLOSE TO THE OCEAN in a TSUNAMI ZONE???? From the aerial photos, it was clear that it was the wave and water damage that totally hosed the support infrastructure. I’m sorry, this just sounds like about eight kinds of STUPID.
Why, O why in God’s good name hasn’t Alan Greenspan committed suicide? Not only that, the arrogant prick still has the audacity to go around giving testimony; and people are amazingly stupid enough to listen to him, as opposed to the sane response, which would be beating him to death.
For once I will praise the amerikan reactor design in one respect – the outer containment building is a monster, super massive concrete over structure (a couple feet thick with steel reinforcement structure that even at Three Mile Island, it withstood a massive hydrogen explosion and I don’t think even a jet flying into one could cause it to fail – and yes, there is video on the web showing a F-4 being “flown into a test wall – those, they got right. The Japanese reactors don’t appear to have those structures.
Relative to storing the waste fuel in a holding tank, this is what all plants do and it is a terrible danger – as they just showed, when water is lost, the fuel burns releasing vast amounts of very deadly radioactive waste – hopefully, they can keep water on that pool again. That is a problem that had better be addressed soon in amerika as well.
Pigs & Spiders
@magurakurin: I don’t know why you seem to be taking this personally. I’m not trying to offend anyone or make light of the overall disaster in Japan. Not in the least. Nor am I making the argument that TEPCO was perfect or that their reactors are perfect. But as someone who sees nuclear power as the only way out of a fossil-fueled-future-fuck, I’d hate to see the events at Fukushima cause a worldwide backlash against a technology that has been as maligned as any other in human history.
@magurakurin: I’d just like to point out, unrelated to your guys’ argument, but worth saying anyway, that going over to Japan to “help” is a very terrible idea (unless you’re a professional, of course). Chances are that the average person would be absolutely illiterate and unable to follow basic instructions. Now return you to regularly scheduled nuclear power debate.
Maybe not. At the time of the accident, the word was that they got volunteers for the clean up with promises of good health care and financial prosperity for their families after they were gone. The workers knew they were on a suicide mission.
What a bunch of morans. “Tsunami” has a Japanese origin, right? “Oh, we’ll just locate the plant where the backups can be flooded.”
Pigs & Spiders
@mistermix: The radiation released so far is definitely over design limits, but so was the earthquake and tsunami that hit it.
@Captain Goto: I don’t know why that site was chosen, though it seems to have been a poor one. I do know a lot of plants are built on the coastlines because, as in this case, seawater makes an abundant and readily available coolant.
@magurakurin: Because he isn’t stupid but just paid(?) to write bullshit on sites attacking the safety of nukes – obviously he is not going to say anything but rosy statements like that – a leading Japanese scientist in Tokyo stated last night that the reactor was breached but that guy only lives in Japan, is a top nuclear reactor research scientist on reactors and we know is paid to lie like that because, well, because – so, fake and imbalance news requires we listen to the other insane side even if the person is beck-like in his thinking – paid troll?
Yeesh. The quakes are moving further west. No tsunami warning and there doesn’t seem to be any problems as of yet.
The epicenter was near Mt. Fuji.
There was a very interesting _Scientific American_ article back in the 1970s or 1980s when I subscribed as a kid, about degrees of destruction if an American N-plant were hit with various things. I think the article focused on what would happen if a small nuke vaporized the reactor core. IIRC, it would result in substantial fractions of the US uninhabitable.
I’m not sure that’s true so I’d like to revisit the article, but can’t find it.
I don’t understand. How did the spent fuel rod cooling pond catch fire? Do they cool it in gasoline?
@Pigs & Spiders:
maybe because all the people around me are speaking Japanese and I go the crazy notion that I’m, you know, in Japan. It’s really not some sort of academic debate. The industry has been given its chance. They failed, and all the whitewash and wallpaper isn’t going to change it.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Except when there’s a seven-meter-high wall of it coming at you.
@Pigs & Spiders: Ok, I can put up with guesses but you are a liar – prove the earthquake was over limits by showing what the limits are and what hit the plant was over that or you are a complete, paid-off and total liar – prove it or get the fuck off this site.
@Pigs & Spiders: He’s taking it personally because he (and people he cares about) lives there, and he’s not up for a commercial right now.
@Pigs & Spiders: It is true that a tsunami caused a plant blackout, but there are other scenarios that could cause the same kinds of blackout events without a tsunami. And it looks like the standard countermeasures don’t work, and that containment doesn’t contain, so the question is where we go from here. We just got dealt a big learning experience, and starting out with the attitude that what’s happening there right now is better than expected isn’t going to help the cause of nuclear energy.
@Captain Goto: A failure of imagination. “There hasn’t been a large tsunami here in 1000 years.” “The seawall will protect the backup generators.”
Another unanticipated consequence of the disaster:
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried fired as voice of Aflac duck
Good thing the Republican party is not in the Japanese Diet because all they would get in a few years is a big FU from them and a “radiation? What radiation?”.
I recall reading that the quake was bigger than the design limits.
Dutch harbor is aglow with concern.
The real question of the day is Did they wake Godzilla?!?
@kindness: WAG, the radiation is activating the waste fuel in the pond.
@lostinube: Here’s the map from the USGS. The one west of Tokyo is near Fuij.
Reminds me of the recent _Onion_ article saying that Republicans were refusing to fund a bill proposed by Obama that would deflect a massive asteroid that would otherwise hit the earth.
@Cermet: What would Larry Kudlow say?
Thanks for mentioning that. Most Americans have no idea of how close that came to an accident and how bad the operator was (my power supplier).
@polyorchnid octopunch: While the CANDU is a better design then the BRs, I’m a big fan of the Pebble Bed Reactor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor With a PBR if if all external support is broken it will just heat up to it’s stable temperature then passively radiate heat.
Ah yes. The answer to the question of what the hell else could happen to Japan.
I’ve been wondering that myself.
I think someone pointed out above that oceans provide lots of water for cooling. Aren’t there quite a few plants in the US on the coast?
That said, I can’t believe it would be exorbitantly expensive to lay enough cement so that things like backup generators for the coolant system aren’t taken out by a tsunami.
It’s beside the point. They don’t get to toss up their hands and say “well, gee whiz the quake was bigger than we thought, sorry about poisoning the land for the next 10 generations.” The industry has continually assured they could handle any eventuality. And they have to. Look, this one joker on here is full of shit, because I heard it with my own ears in two fucking languages from a number of people on every fucking channel on tv that one of the reactor cores, in all probability had been breached. No one knows for certain but they are working off that assumption now. But even that aside, the fact that the worst might still be avoided isn’t due to any sort of engineering triumph or a testament to the safety of these facilities…it is from the grace of fucking God that it isn’t worse.
Last night the officials from TEPCO were giving a presser and they were in a state of panic. They were clueless and they were white with fear. There was no hiding it. This is a really bad, bad fucking thing and if we scrape out of this without it getting worse than it is now it won’t be due to the prowess of those rodeo clowns. Fuckin’ shut em down.
Probably for the easy access to cooling water from the ocean. If they built them inland then they’d have to lay pipelines to provide the water and those pipelines would probably go away in the event of a catastrophic quake/tsunami anyway.
Pigs & Spiders
@Cermet: Cermet, I’m not a liar and I am not a paid flak from the nuclear industry. I actually work in the entertainment industry. But I can read. Here’s the WSJ article stating the earthquake was beyond the design limit. I believe it was tested to a 7.9–an extremely large earthquake–and what was considered to be that fault’s potential.
David in NY
”GE built the first reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T), and with Toshiba Corp (6502.T) it manufactured the second.
“‘Clearly we are offering any kind of technical assistance to our customer TEPCO and the government of Japan as they go through the recovery efforts with the nuclear power plants,’ Chief Executive Jeff Immelt told reporters said. ‘Our first priority is to support the government and people of Japan.’
“Immelt said GE would donate $5 million to relief efforts and extend technical support to Hitachi Ltd. (6501.T), Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power, as well as the government.”
Five million for Japan?? And 7.4 million for Immelt: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/43e05de2-4e93-11e0-874e-00144feab49a,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F43e05de2-4e93-11e0-874e-00144feab49a.html&_i_referer=
That makes GE’s priorities pretty clear, I think.
Wonder if PEPCO, my supplier (DC and MD suburban near DC) has an N-plant. (Kind doubt it.) Around here, a mouse farts and big chunks of the distribution grid go out.
I completely agree that “the plant specs were for a smaller earthquake” is a piss-poor argument. Just throwing my 2 cents in on the factoid itself, not its rhetorical value.
And the weather forecasts for the rest of the week is rain/snow and dropping temperatures across the country.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Oh, so you _are_ being paid to post here!
@Pigs & Spiders:
Well, they were fucking wrong in their assumption then weren’t they? What else were they wrong about? Sorry if my faith their abilities has been shattered by the fact that I’m wondering if I’m going to turn green tomorrow.
@liberal: Maybe but to state this as fact is pure lying unless you can back it up with some reasonable proof (like tell me the design limit for that plant, that, at least would give us a starting point to compare and judge if it has a bases for truth) – fact, earthquakes in the seven range are considered survivable by the published structural engineers I have read and I was always led to believe this was the design limit of our nukes (pure assumption, maybe we too don’t – in which case nukes are far more dangerous than we have been told)- the Japanese may do things differently since they can far more and stronger quakes than we do. Also, the NYT did show a map of the quark strength a few days ago and that site was in the mid-sevens; since this may be wrong and corrected – if so, I am wrong but until proven otherwise, YOU CAN STATE IT AS FACT-period. Otherwise the person is a liar.
@liberal: No, but Calvert Cliffs is moderately close to DC and supplies power to Balmer.
sorry I snipped at you.
@Cermet: please show your internet cop badge again. The rest of us missed it the first time.
And for you to be complaining about anyone going on this topic without showing proof of their assertions, well.
Pots, kettles, people in glass houses throwing stones, etc.
USGS and Japanese authorities have revised their estimates of the quake’s strength to 9.0. It’s fairly common for initial strength estimates to be revised upward as more data becomes available.
@liberal: I also read somewhere—I can’t recall where—that they brought in backup generators after the diesel backups were washed away only to find that the plugs on the new machines didn’t match. Which as I read it seemed utterly ridiculous—what they didn’t have an electrician around to jury rig the proper connection? The very fact that the story was being told suggested to me one of those lies designed to conceal another (bigger) lie.
Pigs & Spiders
@magurakurin: No one made assumptions. They took the information and data that could be collected and they worked from that. Just like every other industry under the sun. Look, I completely get that you and everyone else that lives and works in Japan is angry and upset about the situation. I just think there’s been a lot of misinformation and–if you’ll forgive me–assumptions being made about what happened at those reactors and the state they are in and before we go calling for TEPCO employees or anyone else to gut themselves, maybe we should wait a few weeks to find out what really happened? With every nuclear incident there has ever been, there have been facts and circumstances that were not revealed until well after the reactor went cold.
All I’m saying is that I read in the MSM that the limit was something like 7.9.
While the quake aspect is unsettling, no pun intended, this thing that perhaps the backups were flooded by the tsunami is just ridiculous, IMHO, in terms of a design flaw.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@polyorchnid octopunch: The coolant also serves a cooling function when the reactor is shut down. The fuel is still decaying, and hence giving off heat. Even when the reactors are shut down, the pumps on the reactor side are still run to draw that heat off.
My Navy training coming back to haunt me.
@Pigs & Spiders:Ok, for now I will take your word on your proffesion and you are not paid to troll but the quake was not over the seven range as far as the published data I saw (one fing data point so it may not be correct); again, that may have been revised but that proves that in a country where quakes are know to routinely get in the seven range, no sane person would design a plant that couldn’t take a quake higher than the typical – so a high seven should have been the min. design level with no safety levels (that is hard to believe.)
Your claim that the these plants did what they were designed to do does not make sense – either you are guessing and making false reassurances, or the Japanese nuke engineer’s are insaneand that does not make me feel safer about our plants but proves the nuke industry is far, far more dangerous than we have been told.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Problem with that line of reasoning is that no other industry deals with stuff that can render huge areas uninhabitable.
Doesn’t mean that nuclear can’t be shown to be a better intermediate-term energy supply than solar/wind or fossil fuels. It does mean that it’s just not the same as other industries in terms of catastrophic, acute failures.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Given the apparent lack of transparency and how such things fuel bad testing, bad design designs, poor operations management, etc, etc, I think you just made an own goal.
@Dennis SGMM: You think Gottfried would have learned the concept of “too soon” by now. In the documentary “The Aristocrats” at a roast soon after 9/11 he makes a joke about it and gets roundly booed.
If Tunch could talk he would have told us:
“Beware the Radionuclides of March.”
Funny – I actually can drive 1/10 mile from my house and turn north and see the smokestack from the plant that took down the whole northeast US and Ontario in 2003. You can not be much more of a f-up then them.
@Cermet:Dude, you are stating things as facts for which you are not providing links. Does that make you a liar? I am getting a little tired of people tossing around accusations that someone is a liar or a paid shill because of a disagreement. people can be wrong or misinformed without being liars. All of the facts are not yet in, but it appears that the best case scenario here is bad and the worst case is catastrophe. We don’t yet know where this will end. Some of you are picking up the catastrophe ball and running with it. Others seem wedded to the “it could have been worse” school. Hell, both could be right. FWIW I once served in a nuclear capable artillery unit and was trained as a Battery level NBC officer, so I know next to nothing on the topic. Arguments with links are helpful. Screeds on the benefits or dangers of nuclear power are not.
/ombudsman (h/t ED Kain)
I read that as well – it was at a link supplied by mistermix here a few days ago.
Pigs & Spiders
Tell that to the Gulf of Mexico.
All snark aside, of course the nuclear industry is and should be held to the highest standards conceivable. Again, the fact remains that so far–as far as I know and as far as has been reported–none of the radiation leaking from Fukushima currently has or will render that area uninhabitable. Like I said, I think we need to wait and see how this all plays out and I think we’ll end up discovering that despite both the earthquake, the tsunami, and some admittedly potentially avoidable equipment failures, the loss to life and environment from this catastrophe will be smaller than everyone is thinking right now.
My spouse & I were kids in the late 50’s and remember a lot of talk about “fallout” in the news. The US and Russia were doing all those atomic bomb tests in many places around the world. We didn’t have any of the “duck and cover” drills in our school like others did and we didn’t know anyone who actually built a bomb shelter.
My spouse doesn’t know if he remembers correctly but seemed to think there was a PSA telling americans that a cloud of fallout would be over the US, where and when, and to stay indoors. He may have that mixed up with the PSA’s that talked about what to do in case of a nuclear attack. As a kid I only remember people talking about fallout and when I went outside to play, being told not to eat the snow!
Maybe some other oldies here have some better memories of that era.
Now pigs, you stated that the reactor was not breached, so how do you, an entertainment person know more than a top PhD Tokyo researcher in the field of fission power who is rather close on the scene – this is important to prove you are not a paid troll. Please explain this rather critical piece of information – did officials state this as fact today? I have not read that as of 8:00 AM EST. Been here and working since.
@Napoleon: Yes, I read that as well. Basically, they didn’t “commission” the backup generators, a process that ensures that they actually will work as designed. They just delivered them and left and everyone assumed the best.
Also, having the backup generation in the basement was a huge error in judgement. If it had been placed above ground…if, if, if.
Pigs & Spiders
@Cermet: Sorry, Cermet, I’m going to have to ask you to provide a link to your Tokyo Doctor.
@Pigs & Spiders: Again – you are making guesses that are just so rosy that goes against all main articles I have read – are you stupid? You do not know the #3 reactor is plutonium fueled? If the #3 reactor melts down a small but deadly nuclear explosion could well occur sending many, many tons of deadly radioactive waste high into the air and that could kill people here. Again, on what bases as someone who has zero training in any technical field, do you base this ridiculous claim on? You are acting like what you say is truth and it is bullshit; maybe right but pure guessing – you are definitely looking like a paid troll for the nuke industry. Either stop making these totally false statements or get off this site.
Guys, there is one thing I want to make here that I do not think is much understood:
The containment vessel was NEVER BREACHED. That is the giant concrete thing. It is intact. References to the core being ‘fully exposed’ do not mean that it was exposed to the outside, they mean that it was exposed to the inside of the reactor for awhile because it was not covered in sea water.
Keep that in mind when you are thinking about how bad this was. You are being sold a load that the reactor’s defenses completely failed and the core was open to the sky. That’s not even close to true.
@Dennis SGMM: Yeah, and I never heard it described as less than 8.8, so this story that it was initially 7.9–in what universe was that?
@Pigs & Spiders: Last nights main article by the New York Times – go look at it yourself; you seem to have more information than anyone but an operator at the nuclear site in Japan.
When did you first realize that everyone who disagrees with you on the internet is in the employ of of a shadowy conspiracy?
By the way, no real fallout can occur in the US unless a major explosion occurs – that we are safe from unless the #3 goes and that, is unlikely and maybe impossible depending on the amount of Pu in the core.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Just for the purpose of putting humanity’s power usage into perspective, the entire human race currently uses ~16 terawatts/year of energy. The amount of energy from sunlight hitting the earth right now is 86,000 terawatts/year. Oh, and the sun has been providing that annual amount every year for billions of years free of charge. As a side thought experiment think about the other energy source that we rely on as human beings (hell historically speaking it has been more important to our survival than electricity): food. Last I checked, most agricultural production has been and is pretty reliant on solar energy. But I digress.
When you stop to consider that all the fossil fuels we have been burning for the past few hundred years are just stored up solar energy that we have been using because it doesn’t take too sophisticated a technology to tap into that power, it seems pretty clear that the actual solution to humanity’s energy problems is just figuring out more efficient means of harnessing, in real time, the energy from the sun that hits our planet into energy we can use to run the cogs of our civilization.
I imagine we haven’t made more progress on this front because: 1) the technology is a little harder (but really, compared to the technology and resources dedicated to developing nuclear & fusion power over the past 40 years figuring out solar energy isn’t harder or costlier); 2) there is less profit in figuring out how to tap into an energy source that is so widely (and, err, pretty much freely) distributed (look ma no need to locate coal beds/oil fields/natural gas basins/uranium deposits and then transport those fuels to processing/power plant and then transport the electricity to the end user) and easily tapped once the technology is in place and thus difficult to operate like a traditional utility; and 3) and I will go out on a bit of a limb here, because solar power is more diffuse (I mean have you ever really sat back and thought about how much solar energy is stored in a gallon of gasoline: about 500 human hours of physical labor btw) it doesn’t have the same bang potential as fossil fuels or nuclear energy (harder to lift a rocket into orbit with solar energy; harder to blow things up; takes more work to come up with military applications).
Anyways, the solution to the energy needs we face as a species pretty much stares us in the face every day. If we are truly as smart monkeys as we think we are we will get around to making solar energy work for all our needs sooner rather than later.
/end solar power rant
Pigs & Spiders
@Cermet: @Cermet: Cermet, I’m trying really hard to take you seriously, but you are just misinformed, at best. There is no way in this universe that in the very worst case scenario a nuclear explosion could occur. Nuclear explosions are actually extremely difficult to manufacture intentionally–thank FSM–and cannot occur in even a completely uncontrolled meltdown. I’m not a paid nuclear industry flunkie and I don’t claim any technical expertise, but you’re not making any sense.
@liberal: Looking at the PEPCO site, they do not have a listing of their power plants. I did find a listing of the subsidiary companies of PHI, though. IIRC (from my paralegal days in utilities law), there is at least one nuclear plant operated by one of the subsidiaries. Can’t remember the name off the top of my head; it requires a little research.
Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy
Ask NASA about realtime events exceeding the data. Twice.
@Chyron HR: Try thinking with your brain – I am using facts; this person has zero training in any scientific field and is stating as facts what no one even on site has said – I am saying is not unreasonable but I have been asking not stating it as fact. Please read my posts before writing such silly, unfounded statements – makes you look rather bad.
James K. Polk, Esq.
@kindness: Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen.
Given enough energy (in this case, from radioactive decay), it will hydrolyze into component elements.
Hydrogen + Oxygen + Heat = Big Bada Boom.
@soonergrunt: I saw 7.9 stories. IIRC they were those published at the time of the tsunami.
Guy can we stop with the personal insults please. On a side note the USGS upgrade the initial quake to 9.0 and they just had another 6.0.
Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy
Purplegirl: No PHI nukes, but the Poopster hit it with BG&E’s Calvert Cliffs reactor.
@Omnes Omnibus: That’s what I would call confirmation of something.
I wasn’t up at the time of the quake, approximately 1145 PM Central time. When I first saw the news around 700 AM the next day, it was described as an 8.8 with a huge tsunami.
@JimF: Yeah, I tried the can’t we all get along thing earlier. No takers.
So far there has been no major damage reported from the Shizuoka quake and the news made it a point to mention that the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant has not been affected.
@Pigs & Spiders: Ok, this proves you are a complete no nothing – try reading my post – it has been published as fact by experts that the #3 reactor contains Pu enriched fuel; fact, that fuel can support a nuclear explosion – stop talking about what you have zero knowledge about and are obliviously either lying or blowing it out of your ass. For a poster, you are determined to deny anything that makes nukes look bad, why? Again, you are dead wrong so stop acting like you know anything because you don’t.
Being and outlandish asshole is his stock in trade.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Why should Cermet take a reasonable tone instead of coming across as an insultingly obnoxious asshole? What’s to gain from reasonable, rhetoric and hyperventilation-free discussions amongst the grownups?
Being loud-mouthed, bombastic and insulting to others makes people worship you. Ask El Rushbo!
@Pigs & Spiders: What the fuck do you know about nuclear weapons to make that statement? You know zero – so STF on what reactors can go nuclear and which can not – return to the stage and let people with a trace of real information talk here.
@Pigs & Spiders:
I’d call it an engineering failure (and obviously a political failure as well) to have imagined that an 8.9 earthquake couldn’t happen.
I’m not opposed to nuclear power. In high school I toured Texas A&M’s research reactor and thought it was amazingly cool. What I fear is the human tendency to underestimate the 1 in 10 million outlier disaster.
And given the half life of things like cesium 137, I just do not accept that it’s OK to engineer for (per the World Nuclear Industry assn, a trade group) “the largest earthquake which can reasonably be expected to occur at the site of a nuclear power plant, based on the known seismicity of the area and local active faults.” (emphasis added)
That may not exactly be an engineering failure, but it is a catastrophic failure to anticipate that we humans do not actually know the extent to which nature, as the saying goes, always bets last…and in this case threw up a “hocouldaknowed” 8.9.
Ultimately, the hubris of humans to think we can model all possible scenarios and plan for them is the central weakness of nuclear power.
All that said, the mercury pollution from coal, not to mention the CO2, means that there are real risk of run-away climate change, so maybe we accept the risk/return ratio of nuclear. But to say it is safe is false. Less bad that other options, maybe. But that’s how a rational process has to be framed.
Can we apply that stock disclaimer about rates and results here to cover earthquake strengths? You know, that line about how historical rates are NOT indicative of future actions. Well, I’m not a geologist or scientist, but it seems to me that because an area has sustained X rated quakes in the past, that does not mean all or any future quakes will only be in that range. You can use the historical data as a guide for future planning, but wouldn’t it be prudent to include a worse case scenario that goes with a more powerful quake. Also remember that the records only go back so far, we don’t know about quake strength for all time. Think about it.
The ‘one in a million outlier disaster’ is what the containment vessel is for. Its purpose is ‘Every backup plan has failed, let’s ensure that only the reactor site itself becomes a radioactive Hell’. The containment vessel is doing just dandy. Shrugged off the earthquake like it was nothin’. The pretty roof they built to keep off the weather exploded. The reactor inside is overheating and in danger of meltdown. The containment vessel is fine.
It’s not surprising that that would happen, Dennis. It will be some time before things will ever get back to “normal” in Japan.
The nuclear crisis that is going on now…I remember Chernobyl when that happened (I was a kid back then, but it scared me out of my wits).
Just asking, but have you ever read Scortia and Robinson’s novel The Prometheus Crisis? It was published in 1975, but it predicted to a T the Three Mile Island accident of ’79 and Chernobyl in ’86…and I guess you can add Fukushima in 2011.
@Odie Hugh Manatee: I have been reasonable in all my posts but the last, so please, stop using lies to make false points – it is getting old talking with the pig who knows zero and is now trying to continue like he knows anything – you are typical of people who have trouble dealing with any one who knows a subject that you appear to have little knowledge of, and instead, use verbal noise to make up for it. Please join in by using information and adding to understanding.
Pigs & Spiders
@marcopolo: I’m a big fan of making solar work more efficiently. It’s just that the technology is still in its infancy, relatively speaking.
RE: Paid Troll
Soooo this is where the cutting-edge well-funded nuclear industry dispatched their workin’ gals to peddle their voodoo propaganda??
I always knew BJ was where the cool kids came to get paid! Pimpin ain’t easy!
@Pigs & Spiders:
@Pigs & Spiders: Yes, talk about something else after you make extreme claims you know you can’t back up – please, explain now I am wrong by using known technical details. You clearly stated it is impossible for a Pu based reactor to undergo a nuke explosion and nukes are hard to make? What fuel is used in the average reactor? A breeder? and a real atomic bomb? Please, tell us since you claim to know what can and can not happen in these reactors and say I am wrong – maybe some more people can help and just throw insults like repug-a-thugs do to democrats. Of course you can’t so stop pretending you know anything on the subject. If you want to learn, fine –stop acting like you know anything about what is going on (few do and I am sure even less has been told to reporters) and making false statements about a topic you do not understand. Thanks
He’s not saying that the weapons grade plutonium isn’t there. He’s saying that it requires immense pressure applied perfectly evenly from all directions to produce a nuclear explosion. That isn’t something that happens in a reactor, and in fact it’s outrageously hard to make happen even under the most controlled circumstances.
It’s the reason why countries that get weapons grade plutonium still have to do massive research and testing to get a functioning bomb.
Pigs & Spiders
I’m beginning to suspect that @Cermet is a troll.
I think that earthquakes are ‘underrated’ in general. 7.9 is really not that high. Since 2000, there have been 14 earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 and more, 2 of them in Japan, 2 of them around the Kuril Islands which are partly claimed by Japan.
Well, looks like pigs the nuclear scientist and weapons expert is better on the stage making speeches based solely on hot air (rings a bell) with his supporters of clowns here at BJ – people, facts are facts and the truth is what we have to face. Maybe this will blow over and hopefully, not get any worse. If people here want to listen to paid trolls and their support of clowns, so be it. I see that is the a significant number of the people willing to post here – what a loss.
@DPirate: 1. I like the ‘Gozira’ pronunciation.
2. We had a beautiful children’s book about a Tsunami warning system in a Japanese village – A bell built on a bridge. The word I remember was ‘Namazu!’ Earthquake Fish,
was waggling his tail.
The story concerning the spent fuel rod pools is truly amazing.
Realize that it is standard practice to store the spent fuel rods on site at nuclear power plants in pools of water. Why? Cause no one has figured out what else to do with them. So for now, the rods are stored on-site around the world waiting for that magic day when a permanent solution is found. Nuclear power cannot be a long term energy solution with no practical solution for long-term disposal of the most toxic form of industrial pollution known to man. And yes, this industry touted as a solution to energy woes is currently operated on the magical prayer that this “problem” will be solved in the near future (normally such “problems” would be considered deal killers).
Why stored in water? Cause they are subject to melt-down themselves from residual heat they generate, and must be continually cooled. And they are NOT stored in any kind of containment structure such as the reactor.
They have also lost their protective water in this crisis and are at risk to “catch fire.” NY Times article on the issue If they do, they will release their toxic radioactivity directly into the atmosphere – there is no containment structure. They are currently using helicopters to drop water on the rods to try and maintain the coolant – I guess any crazy band-aide cure allegedly proves that it is really safe – right?
Pigs & Spiders
@Alex S.: Are you taking into account the fact that the Richter scale is logarithmic? An 8.9 is vastly more powerful than a 7.9 or 8.0.
@Uloborus: Yet that is not how a breeder reactor can undergo a nuclear explosion – what you describe is now an A-bomb that can kill a city is made – understand the difference. A breeder that goes by an uncontrolled fast reaction in the enriched uranium fuel that has a high percentage of Plutonium is a very different type of explosion – it occurs over many milliseconds, and while it can at best vaporize part of the core and breach the containment building, the blast will be no more than that. An A-bomb can destroy a large city because it uses weapon grade uranium or nearly pure plutonium and “burns under a millisecond- very fundamental differences and I have not confused these two very different process like the troll has – but a paid actor would not know these things.
@Pigs & Spiders:
What does that change about anything I said?
Pigs & Spiders
@Alex S.: It means that just because 7.9s and even 8.0 quakes occur with some regularity, it doesn’t mean that we should expect 9.0s to occur with anything remotely like a similar regularity.
Cermet – no reactor can possibly create a nuclear explosion, whether Pu or U based. The U used in commercial reactors is not remotely enriched enough in U235 to ever achieve the needed critical mass for a bomb. The Pu used cannot assemble itself into a necessary critical mass to explode under any circumstances – doing so for a bomb requires rather complex implosion or other focusing techniques, which has to occur at incredible speeds in precise geometries so that the rising power of the reaction does not destroy the effort to create the critical mass for an explosion.
That being said, the danger created by a runaway nuclear power plant disaster is more like a dirty bomb – large amounts of nasty radioactive byproducts are strewn about by more conventional explosion mechanisms.
@Pigs & Spiders: And just because a 9.0 happened last week, and 9.0s are described as “once in a century”, doesn’t mean we couldn’t have another 9.0 today.
@Pigs & Spiders: On the other hand, everything I’ve read suggests that the strength of the quake at the point it hit the nuclear power plants was under 8, and so should have been within engineering tolerances.
I think this is also where the confusion of the strength of the earthquake has arisen. The epicenter was first reported as 8.8 and 8.9 and has since been raised to 9. But the strength of the quake at the power plants has been reported separately, and every report I’ve read has had it under 8.
@Pigs & Spiders:
But if what you said in post #76 is true, and they tested the reactors to a 7.9 earthquake, they made a huge error. A logarithmic increase in strength makes that error even bigger.
Considering that a nuclear catastrophe might have consequences that last for several centuries they should test it with that frame of mind, i.e. test it to a 9.5 earthquake. But this would probably lead to a decrease in profitability.
Pigs & Spiders
@MikeJ: Of course not. It also doesn’t mean I won’t get hit by a bus when I walk to the corner for lunch today, or that the whole lot of us won’t be destroyed by a meteorite no one saw coming. My point is that testing to a 7.9 earthquake and testing to a 9.0 are wildly more different than the 1.1 points on the scale would suggest. I’ve often thought the Richter scale, while scientifically sound, was a shitty way to express the impact of a quake. We don’t even have a way to really simulate a 9.0, being that it’s roughly 7 times more powerful than the largest nuclear blast ever tested.
Pigs & Spiders
@jwb: My point is that it DID survive the quake. The combined impact of the quake and tsunami has caused aspects of the plant to fail, but so far, not where it really counts.
Pigs & Spiders
@Alex S.: Alex, how did they make an error? A 7.9 was considered the seismic potential of the nearby fault (I’m not even sure they’ve determined which fault this was, so it’s possible that’s still true and that this was on another fault that previously was unknown) so they tested to that potentiality.
@Pigs & Spiders:
Well, first you say that they tested it to a 7.9 size earthquake. Then you say that the Richter scale grows logarithmically, statistics say that earthquakes stronger than 7.9 are relatively likely in this area. I think the error here is obvious.
David in NY
@Pigs & Spiders: I don’t see how you can call “surviving” being totally useless as an electricity generation facility. The country of Japan is going to be well short of its generation needs for a long time now, and the cost of replacing these units will be immense, especially because it is clear they must be built even to higher standards than they have been. This is a lousy way to get your electricity if you live on a fault line.
Moreover, seems to me like you’re claiming victory prematurely. We’re hardly out of the woods here.
All the blah blah NO ONE COULD PLAN FOR A 9.0 — it wasn’t a 9.0 or anything close _where the reactor was_. Check the USGS shake maps, it was in the 7s, which it was claimed to be built for.
Second of all, *none of this* was caused by the earthquake, or even directly by the tsunami; all of this is a cascade of failures due to long-term loss of power. It doesn’t take an earthquake to flood a basement — there’s a lot of paths to this kind of failure, and that’s not good.
Hmm. My comment isn’t showing up, and I didn’t invoke any ED drugs — anyone else having problems?
Trying this without punctuation.
@David in NY: It does seem that when the plant is releasing a three year radiation dose in one hour, that’s a strange time to say, “the system works!”
@dmbeaster: I don’t understand why the spent fuel isn’t stored a mile away (away from a tsunami, away from the reactors). Also, why are the reactors so close to each other? When one – or two – get out of hand, it’s much harder to service the other ones.
Fuck U6: A More Accurate Measure of the Total Amount of Duck-Fuckery in the Economy
It seems to me when you have the core elements completely exposed for 6 hours and only half covered for an unknown amount of time, that it’s hard to say that contingency plans are working. That things aren’t the worst that they could be is cold comfort.
@Quiddity: NObody wants to live next to a spent fuel pond. Also, the further it is, the further you have to transport stuff.
Nobody wants to live next door to a reactor.
Leaving aside the danger, nobody wants to live next door to a massive industrial thingamabob.
David in NY
I’m not sure what the basis for knowledge about the status of the different reactors is, but official statements are far from consoling:
Every time an official says not to worry, things get worse and more people are evacuated.
@MikeJ: I understand those points, but there are places LIKE landfills where nobody lives and the spent rods could be put there – at least to cool down. (I’m not saying you put them into a landfill, just that not everyplace is residential or agricultural.)
But considering that, in Japan at least, one of the biggest risks is from an earthquake – which means grouping the reactors together is not a great idea.
Yes, pig spilled the beans on us – we really are paid by the nuke industry – I am the bad cop (big surprise), and he is good cop. Of course, I get paid three times what he does because I have to try and sound/pretend that I know something (yes, slip up there; not very successful.) The worst part is, he bet me that a bunch of clowns would quickly fall into line and help him and I thought all the people at BJ were too smart for that – strike two!
Our plan was to get you all angry at me so you would both believe my fellow paid troll and take his side – that way, like the sheep many of you have shown yourselves to be, you’d happily agree to increase the vast corporate welfare the nuke industry has grown to love and expect from fools like you. We are so safe we must have all liability transferred to the taxpayer. That way, when shit like this happens, the CEO’s and company billions are safe – besides, they are lucky to clear a few tens of millions a year and they needed that to increase to a few hundred million like wall street hookers do.
Damn pig, you gave the game away – strike three.
Based on the Rachel Maddow segment up at the Washington Monthly, it appears that the innermost containment may have been breached at Reactor 2. The expert reporting stated that they were seeing falling pressures within the reactor, indicating that the high-pressure steam was escaping the reactor and its inner containment. So at this point, it’s safe to say that the earthquake/tsunami forces exceeded the limits of the reactor, as built.
And even if there’s a total meltdown in Reactor 3 – the one using mixed uranium and plutonium for fuel – getting a supercritical mass of fissile materials doesn’t equal a nuclear detonation. Massive radiation releases, yes. Massive heat releases, molecular cracking like what caused the hydrogen buildups that blew up the outer reactor buildings, yes. But even if you look at the records of all the nuclear mishaps that have ever been publicized – including a number of incidents where people accidentally brought sub-critical masses together to form a critical mass – they’ve never resulted in a nuclear detonation.
(Look up the Los Alamos “demon core” – a split mass of plutonium that actually had two separate deadly criticality accidents.)
(Source: “A Review of Criticality Accidents”, PDF here.)
I hate to interrupt you while you’re throwing a psychotic shrieking fit, but are people who disagree with you:
A) Paid trolls, or
B) Ignorant sheep?
I mean, it seems like a pretty easy distinction to make, so I’m not sure why it’s giving you so much trouble.
@BruceK: That is good news and I too have stated clearly that it is unlikely to have a nuclear explosion but it is possible and that is a scarely thing that people need to understand before they agree to supporting breeders. While I was clear, the clowns did waste a lot of my time – but I am paid by the hour so that works for me.
@Chyron HR: Still can’t read – in your case, a mind is a terrible thing to waste and you didn’t get one to waste.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): That’s because the design has a fundamental difference from candu reactors. The core in a candu reactor cannot sustain fission without the coolant, since the coolant is also the moderator that permits criticality of the core. When you lose coolant, fission stops, and the reactor starts cooling off from operating temperatures, not heating up to higher than operating temperatures.
Radioactive steam has been vented to the atmosphere for an extended period, there have been three hydrogen explosions and a spent fuel rod fire. But the containment vessel is “fine.”
Maybe there isn’t a run away “China Syndrome” meltdown happening where fuel is burning thru the floor of the reactor vessel, but clearly things in Fukushima are not fine. (I know that’s not what you said, but there really is a disaster unfolding and to stand on the notion that the vessel is OK is insufficient, IMO).
I stand by my assertion that designing the reactor systems, ie the whole deal, not just the last-ditch vessel structure, to 7.9 earthquake standards was epicly foolish.
And one wonders what our hubris may lead us to f*ck up along the fault lines in California (or New Mardid, for that matter).
Jumping into a fire evidently but this is the best summary of wtf is going on I have seen so far
@BruceK: Also, don’t forget the fundamental difference between a nuclear breeder reactor (and this applies to a normal fission reactor) and a pit (nuclear weapon core.) A nuclear reactor only gets a critical “mass” after it melts and the physics of liquid Pu and enriched uranium is vastly different (neutron capture cross section changes by an order of magnitude compared to the pit which is solid at impact – nuke experts often overlook these minor points and the result is a minor accident can then turn into a catastrophe.
I’ve got to stop feeding the clowns but it is fun reading their pathetic attempts at logic.
That’s a strawman, isn’t it? Chernobyl was a complete disaster, yet of course there was no criticality. So what?
AFAICT the big problem with solar isn’t generating the elecricity but rather storing it for when the sun don’t shine.
If I understand right – and my dad worked at Los Alamos in the fifties, so I got nuclear chain-reaction science with my breakfast as a kid – to get from fissile materials (even of sufficient raw mass to theoretically go supercritical) to the classic glass-crater nuclear detonation, you need sufficient mass of sufficient purity, at sufficient density, and enough capture of escaping neutrons to sustain the increasing energy release.
Several things are going to work against a nuclear detonation:
1) Escape of neutrons. Nuclear weapons have neutron reflectors to contain and maximize the reaction; that’s absent in a reactor, or at least not present in a form that facilitates an explosion.
2) Contamination. If your entire core has melted down, you’ve presumably got your control rods mixed into the corium slag – impurities which were picked specifically to absorb neutrons and smother the reaction. Not to mention all the other materials in the core that aren’t the fuel itself. The corium will not be anywhere close to being pure fissile material, and the percentage of purity will be dropping all the time, between decay and whatever it’s melting through.
3) Density. When stuff heats up, it gets less dense, with a few screwy exceptions which, last I checked, didn’t include fissile materials. And when fissile material expands, it gives more room for neutrons to miss other fissile atoms completely and escape – required masses for criticality and super-criticality go up with temperature, as density goes down.
So, many of the same factors that are making life a living nightmare for the entire region are actually working against a nuclear detonation. From all I’ve read, the absolute worst-case nightmare scenario is a slagged core melting through all containments and burning down until it hits the water table and causes a major steam explosion that way.
@liberal: Just thinking with my keyboard, I suppose. Got the impression that there was a claim being made that a melting-down reactor might go off like, well, an atom bomb.
Just a clarification about earthquake magnitudes: above 7.9 (Richter), there will be very little difference in the actual shaking of the earth–which is, of course, the variable that engineers care about. So if a plant is rated to withstand 7.9, it will be rated to withstand a 9.0. The Richter scale is a measure of the total energy released during an earthquake, and the difference between a 7.9 and a 9.0 magnitude earthquake really has to do with the area of rupture (the larger the area, the larger the magnitude), not the shaking.
Yup, especially with the plutonium in unit 3, the worst case is for it to become aerosolized and airborne–I’d liken it to a “dirty bomb.”. I don’t know by what mechanisms that could happen, but this whole thing seems to be cascading as each new day progresses. While I understand there’s no way it can replicate Chernobyl, knowing they’ve resorted to helicopter water drops brings back those memories regardless.
I know a lot of Balloon Juicers have probably already been generous about giving to relief efforts in Japan, but here’s another opportunity.
My husband is a sailor on the USS George Washington CVN-73, homeport Yokosuka, Japan. The ship is doing a blanket drive for the people in Japan. There is a shortage of blankets and there are still people suffering in the northern part of the country most hard hit by the earthquake, tsuanami and radiation exposure. The temperatures at night are getting down to around freezing, they have no power and the Japanese government is having a difficult time evacuating these poor people out of the affected area. If you’re interested in helping please send blankets to the following address –
USS George Washington
Public Affairs Officer
FPO AP 96650-2801
This is a relatively simple and a not-too-expensive way to help out. The post office will only charge you shipping to the US west coast, after that the military picks up the cost for shipping to AP/FPO addresses.
I suppose I should not be surprised, but I still cannot get over the sensationalist and grossly inaccurate reporting that is going on regarding the nuclear situation in Japan. The anti-nuclear groups are trying to use this to their advantage to try and point out the inherent “evils” of nuclear energy. This might shelve any hope of building any sort of new nuclear facility in the US or in Japan for the foreseeable future as people are being whipped up in a frothing panic over nothing.
I consider myself a rational skeptic and have long been interested in nuclear technology and its applications. I feel that this nuclear hysteria has gone on far enough. In any case, I have written a write-up on this to explain what I know about the nuclear situation in Japan in order to try and clear up some of the panic.
Herbal Infusion Bagger
“The core in a candu reactor cannot sustain fission without the coolant, since the coolant is also the moderator that permits criticality of the core.”
Aren’t the controls rods down in the Japanese reactors? Criticality isn’t the issue, it’s the heat from the secondary decay that’s the problem.
@Alex S.: Your stats regarding Chernobyl casualties are a bit overstated.
@Herbal Infusion Bagger:
The idea, I thought, was that in a non-CANDU reactor, you might not be able to get the control rods down. Maybe things are bent (structural damage, somehow), maybe things have swollen due to heat, whatever. Then, while criticality isn’t an issue, it just gets hotter and melts. That wouldn’t happen, presumably, in a CANDU reactor if there was a failure which led to the moderator flowing out.
First quote was from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html, second from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html
@Pigs & Spiders:
Easy access to coolant, but also radiation leaks blow mostly out to sea. That being said, I don’t understand why they don’t locate their nuke plants all in Hokkaido where almost no one lives.
So much win in this article. Here it is.
There have been reports that one containment vessel may have cracked. They were rife yesterday, today no new reports about it.
That depends on the methodology of counting and the sources one cites:
@Cermet: …’plutonium’ isn’t a magic substance that explodes at the slightest provocation. It is actually pretty hard to do, hence why countries spent so much money trying to do it. It is completely physically impossible for a nuclear reactor to undergo a nuclear detonation.
And Christ, cut it out with the paid shills crap. It makes you look as unhinged as Glenn Beck.
Uncle Clarence Thomas
Obviously, as President Obama realistically insists, nuclear energy must be part of the mix. It is the only way to win the future.
I suspect one of the (half-gazillion) problems is the inability to directly observe much of the installation and equipment, so they’re drawing the best conclusions they can from the data at hand. I say they should send in the robot squadrons.
A lot of what information we’re getting is along the lines of, “A happened, and the most likely explanation is B.” Problem is, there’s probably also C-Z.
My wife is telling me that on Japanese TV they are reporting that they are venting the containment vessels BY HAND. How long before they run out of willing
I grew up in the 80s in New London, CT across from the Groton Submarine base and General Dynamics sub factory. After Washington DC, this was the primary target for Russian nukes, as a strike on the area would destroy not only several subs and all their missiles and warheads, but also the sub factory. My window faced east, and as I was dreaming, I would often dream that the missiles were landing and exploding in blinding light. Then I’d wake up with the sun in my eyes. Good times.
so, at this point, we have this.
6 reactors. 1-3 were online, 4-6 were not. all six, AFAICT, had spent pools in the main building outside of the inner containment.
reactors 1-3 have at least partially melted down, one of them may have a breach in the inner containment, and all six are having issues (4 especially) with their spent pools.
reactors 1-4 have either lost large parts, or most, of their outer shells, exposing the spent pools to the open air.
the coolant loops in the three reactors that were online are boned, and one or two are just holding on due to massive influx of seawater.
as far as i know, the coolant loops for the spent fuel rod pools are separate from those that cool the reactor cores, which makes sense as reactors 4-6 were offline yet still continually cooling their spent pools. but all 9 loops (3 reactors + 6 pools) are kinda boned.
so the japanese nuclear authorities are dealing with 9, count em, 9 coolant loop failures. 3 of which impact cores full of full- or almost full-strength fuel rods, and 6 of which impact spent fuel rods that can still get hot as shit and catch fire.
and oh yeah, the 6 i just mentioned are more exposed to the atmosphere.
despite the good news, this is still a shitty situation. this is going to be very, very difficult to get under control. it’s going to be a miracle if this ends up without a pretty major release of radioactive material into open air.
Exactly, you are either one or stupid; I never said a word about solid Pu and solid enriched U; I said when these become liquid after melting down, all bets are off and capture cross sections are very different – this could lead to a nuclear explosion (but still, not likely); either you can’t read simple words or as a liar and shrill, you are desperate to keep false threads alive – boy, BJ is really moving up in importance to get trolls this dedicated to created lies … .
thing about TMI is, it was a PWR. so it was built tough. the outer building was tougher, and i’m assuming the inner containment (reactor vessel) was tougher as it was designed to operate at twice the pressure of a BWR.
so a partial meltdown, and a small hydrogen explosion, kept the inner containment and outer building together.
the fact that the outer buildings for fukushima’s reactors 1-4 are already boned is a bad sign. and i’m sure the reactor vessel is more likely to fail during an equivalent meltdown to TMI. i dunno.
all in all, it appears that the likelihood of radioactive material escaping into the atmosphere is higher here. remember that the japanese have to deal with 3 active reactors here.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: Your sats are way off – NPR had an expert on radiation (head of a think tank) yesterday and they indicated 6000 extra deaths of CHILDREN which was fully the result of radioactive iodine release by the reactor that was taken up by cows and went into their milk which the kids drank – 6000 are a lot of children slaughtered that you overlooked.
@chopper: Ok, I didn’t know that I had said something on the subject that says otherwise – if I did, I stand corrected. I did in a thread talk about amerikan buildings, however.
i don’t think that’s likely at all. fissile materials that can be used in bombs have a habit of blowing themselves apart before they have the ability to go so critical as to create a real nuclear explosion, whether liquid or solid.
the whole very difficult design behind nuclear weapons is to come up with a way to create a supercritical mass that stays that way long enough for a good percentage of it to fission. you need high explosives to pull that off.
It looks as if the storage pools may be a Big Fucking Deal, and that this risk has been recognized, if not publicized, since Friday.
@chopper: Sorry, but you are confused on a few issues (and that is normal – most people don’t know details on this subject, thank god) – atomic bombs yes, these ultra powerful weapons that destroy cities do require what you said; however, a run away low level nuclear explosion does not need any compression to get it to go – I carefully pointed this out in a earlier post. The high purity used today (no neutron poisons) really makes a difference too.
Herbal Infusion Bagger
“My wife is telling me that on Japanese TV they are reporting that they are venting the containment vessels BY HAND.”
Reminds me of video from Chernobyl I saw where their robots couldn’t operate to pick up the graphite fragments ‘cos the radiation was too high.
So “volunteers” were used instead.
@chopper: Aside, all this is theorotical and not likely reguardless of what happens (could but I really don’t think so, so why concern yourself? You are hardly an expert on the subject so why the detailed statements saying it isn’t possible? Really, experts in the field have all agreed over the years this is exactly what can happen in many breeders … if you know more than them, please write a note to the NYT (and NRC) and clear these issues up – seriously, that would help everyone.
sorry, but again the material would blow itself apart.
get a subcritical cup of hot molten Pu and start pouring more into it. when it gets critical it will pop and blow apart to the point that it is subcritical again. it will be pretty spectacular and bright, but it won’t be a full-on nuclear explosion. of course, you’ll be dead pretty quickly from radiation sickness and burns from the hot spatter. not really from some massive explosion.
think of the demon core here. if what that did is what you call a ‘nuclear explosion’, then sure, i guess. i think everyone else thinks of the term as something pretty powerful.
i haven’t studied nuclear physics in about 10 years, but as far as i remember the neutron cross section of a material is primarily a function of the material, not its phase.
plutonium increases in density at the melting point, by about 2% or so. not much. and IIRC it decreases in density as its temperature rises.
i’d really like to see a qualitative explanation as to how the neutron cross section of this material goes up by several orders of magnitude due to melting.
@Cermet: So you really are unhinged. Got it.
My Japanese wife is now reporting that TEPCo has its subsidiaries hiring homeless people to work at the stricken nuclear plant, paying them good money and not being forthcoming with the dangers. They are provided with some protection , but workers are cleaning up radioactive water and removing their masks b/c they aren’t comfortable not realizing the risk. Not sure how much weight to put on this story as it’s being reported by some Japanese blogs and not any mainstream news orgs.
I would take the reports from the blogs your wife is reading with a metric buttload of salt. I think people are justifiably pissed and suspicious enough of TEPCO to believe and repeat anything, but I would suspect bringing in untrained personnel would be a fast way to really fuck things up beyond all repair.
All of the operational reactors at the Fukushima plants shut down within 9 seconds of the earthquake shock being detected at the sites as they were designed to. The control rods that absorb neutrons and stop the fission process occurring were all deployed and fission stopped.
The boiling-water reactors at Fukushima all require cooling water/steam to be present for criticality to occur, just as the CANDUs require heavy water to moderate (slow down) the thermal neutrons to allow them to fission other uranium atoms in the fuel pellets. In fact all Western power reactor designs for the past fifty years or so require coolant for fission to occur — it’s called having a negative void coefficient. Take away the coolant and fission stops. There are other reactor designs such as the RBMK-4 built at Tchernobyl and elsewhere in the old Soviet Union which have a positive void coefficient which means that removing the coolant increases the fission rate. This is a BAD idea, but the Soviets were building reactors designed primarily as weapons-grade plutonium cookers instead of reactors designed to generate power as their primary purpose.
What’s been happening over the past few days at the Fukushima plants is that the fuel rods in the cores have been cooling down. After a reactor stops fissioning uranium atoms the rods contain fission byproducts which are radioactive, so-called “daughter” isotopes, many of which are radioactive with short half-lives on the order of seconds or minutes and these decay rapidly releasing more energy. The long half-life elements such as uranium don’t decay very fast and hence don’t add a lot of energy to the thermal budget unless they’re fissioning which isn’t happening any more. The coolant loss means the rods get hot, very hot due to this residual radioactivity. If not enough coolant is kept circulating around the rods they can melt causing the dreaded meltdown scenario which the structure is designed to contain — the melted rod material ends up in a puddle at the bottom of the reactor vessel but doesn’t go anywhere else. That makes cleanup a lot more difficult but it’s going to take years before they will really start to clean up the reactors anyway as they wait for 99% and more of the radioactivity to die away.
As for the plutonium thing… one of the reactors was running with mixed-oxide fuel rods (MOX). This is a mixture of low-enrichment uranium (LEU) and plutonium oxide rather than pure LEU. It’s a good way to burn up stocks of plutonium from reprocessing and is pretty common in lots of countries, especially the ones such as Britain and France which reprocess fuel rods. They are like any other type of fuel rod, totally incapable of causing any sort of nuclear explosion.
As for the exposed fuel rods in store in the cooling pond, this is again common in most reactor sites. The rods stay in the ponds for a few years to cool down, letting the daughter isotopes decay and absorbing the heat generated. After a given time the rods are taken from the ponds and put into casks to be transported to reprocessing plants or stored in air as they are barely warm, perhaps 30 or 40 degrees centigrade from the last residual daughter isotopes. The US, for various reasons both in support of non-proliferation and also for financial reasons does not reprocess fuel rods. The plan was to bury them at the Yucca Mountain depository where they could be dug up fifty years from now when the economics of reprocessing made it cheaper than mining fresh uranium and just storing the spent fuel rods which still have about 90% of their original fuel left in them.
Thank you for explaining to these kooks and cranks and crackpots that the wild tales of “clouds of deadly fallout wafting across the Pacific” and “subcritical nuclear explosions” and who-knows-what-all are 100% bullshit.
This is a serious nuclear accident. It proves, though, that nuclear plants are engineered (in fact, overengineered) properly for safe operation with failsafe safeguards. This plant was designed to withstand a Richter magnitude 8.2 quake and instead it got hit with a magnitude 8.9 quake — and there was still no containment breach, still no subcritical “dirty bomb” event spreading mythical clouds of I-131 over nearby population centers, still no evidence that radiation spiked to levels beyond 8127 microsieverts. For reference, that’s about the level of a chest CT. If you’re not terrified about dropping dead of radiation poisoning because your doctor orders a chest CT, you shouldn’t worry about keeling over dead bleeding from your mouth and eyes and ears and nose and other orifices and your skin peeling off from all the alleged radiation released at the Fukushima plant.
The high radiation levels recorded at the plant appear to have been produced by chunks of material blown off the outer concrete building in the hydrogen ignition explosion. That’s good news, because the radiation there was due to residual radiation caused by secondary decay products. The primary nuclear reaction was shut down within seconds of the quake after the reactor scrammed. Once the moderator rods are inserted, as they were automatically immediately the earthquake hit, it is physically impossible for nuclear fission to continue in the uranium fuel. The only way for a runaway nuclear reaction to occur now in the uranium fuel is if the fundamental laws of nature suddenly change. So if you’re not worried about waking up tomorrow and finding out that gravity has been shut off, you shouldn’t worry about a mythical runaway fission reaction at any of the Fukushima reactors. It’s physically impossible. Even if the core were to fully melt down, the concrete shield at the bottom of the containment vessel is specifically designed to spread out any molten fuel to such an extent that nuclear fission cannot continue.
What no news reports mention is the fact that the decay of fission products proceeds exponentially. That is to say, that after one half-life, there is 1/2 as much energy being emitted, after 2 half-lives there is 1/4 as much energy, after 3 half-lives there is 1/8 as much energy, and so on. This means that the heat being generated from the fission products (which are the sole source of heating at this point) is decreasing not linearly, but much more rapidly than that. While there’s every reason to be concerned about this accident, the wild fears we were hearing last night and the mindless panic we got from kooks like Nerull was more of the usual empty-headed fearmongering we’ve been forced to endure ever since 9/11.
2 workers at the plant have been “treated for radiation exposure.” If the exposure is anything close to what’s been reported in the Nikkei News, it’s about equivalent to a chest CT. The “treatment” is almost certainly KI dietary supplements as a precautionary measure to prevent uptake of Iodine-131 or Cesium-137.
It’s worth a brief mention about the dangers posed by fission decay products. The only fission decay products that pose a significant health risk are those which are chemically similar to elements which the human body metabolizes. Cesium-137 is dangerous because it’s chemically similar to Potassium, which is a major component of human bone (bone is made of calcium phosphate), so the human body readily takes up cesium from the environment, and if it’s radioisotopic Cesium, this can pose a health risk. Likewise, Iodine is absorbed by the thyroid gland and if I-131 were to accumulate in the thyroid this could greatly increase the risk of cancer. Strontium is another risk as it too is readily accumulated by the human body.
Other fission decay products are not readily metabolized and don’t pose anywhere near as much of a danger. Cesium is particularly dangerous because it’s highly water-soluble and thus can be ingested and incorporated into the human body fairly easily.
I-131 has a half-life of 8 days. This means that in 8 days, there will be half as much I-131 as there is now. In 16 days, there will 1/4 as much as there is now, in 24 days there will be 1/8 as much as there is now, and so on. While I-131 is worrisome, its short half-life insures that it’s not the horrible danger the news media has made it out to be.
Cesium-137, with a half-life of 30 years, is more worrisome. Strontium-90 also has a half-life of about 30 years and like cesium is chemically similar to calcium, so both are bone-seekers. The primary health risk of Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 exposure involves increased cancer risk; the proximate treatment involves evacuation from the affected area and treatment with potassium iodide tablets to prevent the body from taking in potentially radioactive cesium or strontium from the surrounding environment.
Source: “Danger Posed by Radioactivity in Japan Hard to Assess,” William J. Broad, New York Times, 12 March 2011.
Ever since 9/11, something seems to have snapped in America’s collective mind. The population of this country has been continually running around screaming in mindless hysteria, terrified of their own shadow. The frantic panic we’ve shamefully witnessed on this forum over the Fukushima incident represents more of the same, and it’s deeply embarrassing.
I think John nailed it — the nuclear fanboys like the above are the 101st keyboarder equivalents. Don’t know what they are talking about and babble about how this is a triumph.
When a standard emergency shutdown under standard emergency conditions like loss of power leads to three meltdowns and the cooling pools boiling off, it’s a massive fuckup, not a triumph.
You keep saying this as if repetition will make it so. As has been pointed out repeatedly, the 9.0 reading was at the epicenter. At the location of the Fukushima plant, the force was in the 7’s.
The reactors and the containment buildings came through the 7.something earthquake that hit the Fukushima sites with no physical damage that anyone could detect. The safety systems at the reactors worked as expected even before the engineers could initiate a manual shutdown as they would have if the automatics hadn’t worked.
What did the real damage was the followup tsunami which trashed the bits of the site that were needed to cool down the hot cores; the coolant pumps and the seawater-condensers. After that the cores overheated and the explosions and releases of radioactive particles are a result of that loss of coolant happening, not directly from the earthquake shock damage.
Why were the reactors were built in a tsunami-prone area? Remember they are over forty years old and their construction started in the 1960s when plate tectonics was a poorly-understood theory about how the Earth’s crust operated. The connection between earthquakes and tsunamis was known but not how crustal plates moved and where the crust boundaries are. We now know that there is just such a major crustal boundary a few hundred km off the north-eastern shore of Honshu which makes that part of the coast more prone to earthquakes and tsunamis than we expected.
containment is believed to have been breached in at least one of the reactors. given that outer containment in reactors 1-4 are completely hosed, this is a bad thing.
it seems funny, there’s a crazy nuclear accident going on and all the opinions are either ‘its chernobyl again’ or ‘this is no big deal, its going to be fine’.
it isn’t either of those. this is a serious situation. fuel rods burning in open air with no outer containment (spent pools) and fuel rods melting in compromised inner containment (reactor 3) as well as no outer containment is a real bad scene.
this isn’t nearly as bad as chernobyl but it certainly aint nearly as good as TMI.
I know all that stuff. You and your fellow fanboys have been busy pushing every exculpatory talking point like mad. I was just pointing out that mclaren’s claim that the reactor made it through an 8.9 shock was false, and that this had been pointed out repeatedly.
BTW, in the light of today’s events the rest of mclaren’s claims are looking pretty foolish too.
Great points–and you made them with facts to back it up.
I did succumb to the blind panic and doom and gloom until I stopped and took some time to think and read (and also remember basic physics). I kicked myself for forgetting that the Chernobyl reactor and the Fukushima (sic) reactors are of two very different designs.
“Why were the reactors were built in a tsunami-prone area? Remember they are over forty years old and their construction started in the 1960s when plate tectonics was a poorly-understood theory about how the Earth’s crust operated. The connection between earthquakes and tsunamis was known but not how crustal plates moved and where the crust boundaries are. We now know that there is just such a major crustal boundary a few hundred km off the north-eastern shore of Honshu which makes that part of the coast more prone to earthquakes and tsunamis than we expected.”
I didn’t think of that, Robert. Good points. But I don’t think a lot of us even considered it.
Just in case anyone thinks otherwise, I’m not dismissing the situation or saying, “Ah hell, people, relax!” This is serious nuclear incident that occurred in the wake of a major earthquake and tsunami–a one-two punch that was simply not on the minds of many people. I’m not a nuclear physicist (and for that matter, neither are most of the commenters). My concerns are more about the people trying to deal with this crisis than in taking potshots at GE, the nuclear industry, and Obama (hell, I’m sure it’s happening). Concern for the Japanese is in danger of being drowned out in a point/counterpoint yelling spree.
But I am worried that cooler, more knowing heads are being drowned out by cries of blind panic and misinformation.