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Don't play with nuclear power

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 04:12:45 PM EST

Kids 'power plant' sparks nuclear alert - The Irish Times - Tue, Jun 23, 2009

A toy nuclear power plant built by two six year-olds sparked a public alert in Germany, only for authorities to discover the would-be security threat was the shell of a computer with a radiation warning sign stuck to it.

Fire services and police cordoned off several streets and told residents to stay indoors in the western town of Oelde after the two boys left their mock power station on the street when they went home for dinner yesterday evening.

"It wasn't a prank, they were just playing," a local police spokeswoman said today.

"The boys tried to go back later to carry on but the fire brigade wouldn't let them through."

The lock-down of the area began when a passer-by saw the metal object with the yellow and black symbol on it, took fright and alerted authorities, the spokeswoman said.

Police sent out warnings on local radio for residents to remain in their homes while a radiation detector was rushed to the scene to investigate the old computer casing and the warning sign, which the boys had printed out from the internet.

After the object had been identified, the boys' parents explained to police the children had gone out to "play nuclear power station" that evening, the spokeswoman said

Perhaps Jerome could finance a project to distribute toy wind turbines to kids.

However this story also illustrates the power of symbols.  Presumably everyone knows what the shell of a computer looks like.  It is a familiar object which shouldn't cause much excitement.  But put a radiation symbol on it and suddenly the police alert local radio stations without even taking a good look at it first.

But of course the two six year olds were very bold. They left their toy on the street whilst they went off to dinner. Either their parents didn't teach them to tidy up after them, or they had immense faith that no one would steal their toy. Either way they disturbed Germany's famous Ruhe und Ordnung. No dinner next time!


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Though, in France, we seems to loose radium needles ( for radiotherapy medical machines or/and for food treatment machines)... A fair amount is lost every year and sometimes people find them, usually in a lead thermos sort of case, open it, and lose their arms if not their life... Sometimes they are in a sort of suitcase that could look (with  bad eyes) like a computer case...

It's been going on before the "terrorist scare" sort of thing. One was even left all alone in an hospital waiting room of another service.
Maybe they use the same delivery company in Germany :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 05:42:13 PM EST
Perhaps this explains the over-reaction.  Certainly the control of hospital radioactive waste leaves a lot to be desired.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, with all the media finding new explanations (dirty bomb etc.) since a few years, we hide the ashes under the carpet and still neglect many simple things... Sigh!

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:28:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well the UK probably wouldn't have had a spare inspector to find out if it was safe or not...

Revealed: catalogue of atomic leaks | Environment | The Observer

In January, Weightman sent a 37-page report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Marked "restricted", it lays bare the crisis afflicting the regulation of the British nuclear industry.

The NII has had to oversee such problems despite an acute shortage of experienced staff. It admits to being 26 inspectors short of the 192 it needs to regulate existing facilities, and its ratio of inspectors to nuclear plant is a third of the international average and far below that of Mexico, Spain or South Korea.

To assess new reactor designs, Weightman says he needs a further 36 inspectors, to bring the complement up to 228 by 2011. But he has "struggled" to recruit new staff and the "lack of build-up of resources to date" could jeopardise the government's target date of 2017 for deploying new reactors.

(my Bold)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:36:56 PM EST
Does it take a nuclear power plant inspector to determine if an empty computer case with a radioactive symbol stuck to it is safe or not?  A Geiger counter is child's play to use.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2009 at 06:45:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If somebody phones in that he's "seen a thingy on the walkway that had a nuclear symbol on it - I think it may be a bomb" then the police roll out with everything and the kitchen sink. The Danish police have been known to send the bomb squad after a forgotten backpack on a train station (and not a very busy train station either - if it had been a bombing attempt, it would have been the dumbest terrorist on record...).

I guess the theory is that they'd rather hassle a hundred people over a potential bomb than have ten people killed by an actual bomb. And while I can't fault that analysis, I do wish that all those paranoid old ladies would stop calling in bomb scares over lost everyday objects.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 24th, 2009 at 05:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it also helps to have a scare or two if your objective is to keep the populace in a constant state of fear and dependence on your wonderful security apparatus...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 25th, 2009 at 06:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germans + nukes = panic.

Still, a healthy sign that the young generation goes out to "play nuclear power station", something their parents most certainly didn't.

Maybe I really should wear that "Bau Wyhl!" t-shirt next time I visit Freiburg... ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 1st, 2009 at 04:23:37 AM EST
Wyh being plans to build a nuclear plant in Freiburg?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 1st, 2009 at 06:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, like 30 years ago. But it was never built. It was the first major victory for the German anti-nukes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyhl

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 1st, 2009 at 01:15:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like our victory against a nuclear plant in Carnsore in Wexford about 30 years ago.  Ireland has been a nuclear free zone ever since - if you discount the emissions we get from the British Windscale (Sellafield) plant in Cumbria.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 1st, 2009 at 02:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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