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The end of nukes?

by Jerome a Paris Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:09:33 PM EST

bumped - Nomad

Apparently the Spiegel has decide to declare the end of the nuclear age, following the serious incidents at the Japanese plants. I must say I don't buy it yet, even as it's obvious that the politics of nuclear just got a bit more complicated for supporters even if the facts don't really support that.

On my side, here a few non-obvious facts about the incidents of the past few days:

  • earthquake kills people, nuke power plants don't kill people. Despite being hit by a very large natural event, damage seems limited to the nuclear plants themselves, with no real material consequences outside the plants. Even with an accumulation of adverse events (earthquake + tsunami), the overall safety design seems to have, ultimately, functioned;
  • earthquakes is what costs money. Overall, the damage to the nuclear plants seems less than to much of the infrastructure which was hit by the earthquake+tsunami, and it's not obvious that the damage to the nuclear plants will cost more than a small fraction of the overall damage; an immediate question is thus whether the damage to these plants should be included in the cost of electricity or in the cost of earthquake insurance;
  • centralised power plants have a cost. Nuclear power plants are large single points of failure - an immediate cost for consumers will be felt as the large nuclear capacity now offline will need to be replaced by more expensive gas-fired power (fuelled, in Japans's case, by LNG imports), if available, and tensions in the power network may lead to rolling blackouts or other form of unreliability - or use of even more expensive oil-fuelled backups; This means that the nuclear industry needs to include such catastrophic events in the pricing of its energy - especially in an earthquake-prone place like Japan, via the incorporation of (i) a lowish, but not far from nil, probability of full loss of large chunks of generating capacity and (ii) the ongoing cost of the availability of a larger permanent reserve capacity to cope with temporary or permanent losses of capacity at large power plants;
  • energy policy is the government's job. All of this underlines that the overall design of the power system hinges on the rules established by public authorities - from the mostly technical stuff on how much backup the system should have, to the allocation of the cost of insurance for large catastrophes, to the safety margins to take into account (ie what threshold of frequency for catastrophic events that you have to deal with, and how big a disruption should be factored in) and to the cost of funding the plants themselves as well as whatever additional safety features you impose on them.
I do expect that there will be political consequences to these incidents, just because, as the Spiegel points out, unusual things happened basically live on TV and these can be spun in so many ways by interested parties. I suspect that the winners will be the coal industry, a bit (in Europe, in the form of a slower phase-out; elsewhere, in the form of fewer restrictions) and, to a greater extent, the gas industry - even if there was probably quite a bit of damage to the gas infrastructure from the earthquake, and even if the long term worries about availability and security of supply are not closer to being answered - it's just the easy, default solution for lazy governments facing highly motivated lobbying and pervasive ideological support (if it's the market's choice, it has to be better). I don't really expect the wind industry to benefit much, given the gap in perception between the evil subsidies given to renewable energies and the "price to pay for our civilisation" nature of the cost of dealing with burning refineries or large-scale inteeruptions of production from centralised plants.


Display:
David Wessel (davidmwessel) on Twitter
The US nuclear industry's hoped-for, anti-climate-change renaissance is disappearing w/every hedline from Japan. http://tinyurl.com/67xzh9j


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 03:32:30 PM EST
I wonder how widespread the infrastructure damage is. Obviously places obliterated by a tsunami are going to be in trouble, but what about a few miles inland?

The loss of a significant fraction of the national power source seems to me to be a huge, long-term issue.

by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 03:58:21 PM EST
but this is more linked to the concentrated nature of big nuclear plants than to the technology.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:24:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when you've lost whole cities, you've lost a lot of infrastructure!

I'd add that the tsunami must have released massive pollution into the ground when it crashed cars (50 gallons of hydrocarbons each plus tons of metal), boats, houses, warehouses, etc...

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The chemical pollution is almost certain to make the radiation problem seem like nothing when we look back on it. say 200,000 vehicles, at 30 litres of oils and fuels each, thats about 6 million  litres dropped onto your best agricultural land and city sites

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:35:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - LIVE: Japan earthquake
The rolling, three-hour power outages scheduled to affect prefectures in Kanto and Chubu on Monday - the first in Japan's history - will take place between 0620 and 2200 local time on Monday, says the Japan Times online. "If we continue [using electricity at the current level], there is the possibility of an all-out blackout in the area," it quotes Prime Minister Naoto Kan as saying. "The impact of a sudden, large-scale blackout would be immense and we must prevent it at all costs."


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:31:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With emphasis on long-term. Cleaning up the reactor cores after the partial meltdown, and thoroughly checking the containment vessels after they withstood more than the design pressure, may take years.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:23:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
somewhere in the last two days diaries is something that says after the last major earthquake, where design tolerances weren't breached it took two years to check stations before they were considered safe to return online. with major plant replacements youve got to be looking way beyond that, if youre not looking at a complete teardown and replace.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another question is did the Tsunami affect the Muroran plant on Hokkaido.

Samurai-Sword Maker's Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear Revival - Bloomberg

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- From a windswept corner of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Japan Steel Works Ltd. controls the fate of the global nuclear-energy renaissance.

There stands the only plant in the world, a survivor of Allied bombing in World War II, capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor's containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak.

(a link I remember from here a year or two ago)

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:37:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Steel Guru : Japanese steel mills assessing damage from earth quake - 195471 - 2011-03-12
Nippon Steel's Muroran and Kimitsu works are also reported to have suffered some damage.

Depending how severe, this might mean a re-design for any new containment components

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:44:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it isn't nuclear either now? They don't like Wind either, so that leaves Coal? I wonder if Spiegel was pro Moorburg.

I heard that some people have been exposed to radiation, so I wouldn't be that sure that nuclear power hurt literally nobody.

by IM on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 04:34:53 PM EST
Right after the 8 p.m. Tagesschau (the evening news) on public channel ARD, Merkel gave an interview defending her government's decisions on nuclear, and announcing a meeting with the state PMs. She put special emphasis on inviting PMs of states without nuclear plants, too – neither she nor the journo thought to mention the relevance: the five states suing the government over the decision to extend nuclear plant running times without consulting the upper house...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And three state elections in this month. And Baden-Württemberg has indeed nuclear power stations.

Like the mid-term elections in the US, just stretched out over a year.

by IM on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and crown prince hopeful Röttgen (the federal environment minister) gets to sweat more after the E10 mess.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:58:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See The Long View, a thread initiated by eurogreen in ceebs' Japanese earthquake diary
Not good for the nuclear industry globally....
  • Immediate halt to new construction, for a start.
  • Next step : abandonment of all reactor designs that rely on any form of active cooling.
  • Meanwhile : China continues apace with their Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. If I have understood correctly, they are inherently safe from the point of view of passive cooling and the possibility of meltdown.
  • In twenty years, when the rest of the world starts looking at nuclear again, China will have a complete lock on the technology.
To which I replied with a cynical
Alternative Long View:
  • We need fiscal consolidation and budget austeriry, we can't afford to retrofit the existing plants to higher standards
  • Japan cannot do without 30% of its electric power
  • Nothing to see here, move along.
  • Less cynically
    Everyone can crack jokes about Soviet technology, but if this happens to the Japanese we can stop feeling all smug about French and Swedish reactors.

    Not unlike the way the 1997/8 Asian/Russian financial crisis couldn't happen to the "sophisticated" WestTM, and look at the ongoing Global Financial Clusterfuck.



    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:11:14 PM EST
    I'm reading that of the nuclear plants along the Rhine fault zone, Fessenheim in France remains the only one not reinforced for earthquakes of the current standard, which is worst historical quake in a 200 km radius. Where I note that that standard may be weak (the quake in Japan was worse than the worst historical one, for example).

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:32:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Re-quoting something ceebs posted in the first Japan earthquake thread:

    Nuclear safety lessons from Japan's summer earthquake | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    On July 16, 2007, an earthquake with a magnitude of somewhere between 6.6 and 6.8 struck Japan. Its epicenter was about 16 kilometers north of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), the biggest such plant in the world. The known results of the earthquake include a fire and leaks of radioactivity. However, news of damage to the reactors continues to emerge, the most recent being the discovery of a jammed control rod in Unit-7. Though there was no major release of radioactivity, the many failures and unanticipated events that occurred at the reactor after the earthquake have important implications for nuclear safety worldwide.

    To start, the Japanese nuclear establishment never anticipated the magnitude of the earthquake. Under Japan's old guidelines, which formed the basis of the KKNPP design, the seismic hazard for each nuclear site is defined in terms of two intensities, termed S1 and S2. (See "Status Report on Seismic Re-Evaluation" PDF.) The S1 earthquake, referred to as the "maximum design earthquake," is less intense and determined by historical events and current and past fault activity. The S2 earthquake, called the "extreme design earthquake" and supposedly an impossibility, is derived from seismo-tectonic structures and active faults. These requirements were believed to provide a "sufficient range of earthquakes to assure reactor safety for any potential earthquake shaking." (See "A Developing Risk-Informed Design Basis Earthquake Ground Motion Methodology" PDF.) But clearly the S2 design earthquake wasn't extreme enough: The peak ground acceleration of the July 16 earthquake was two-and-a-half times greater than what was assumed for the S2 earthquake.



    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:36:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Fessenheim is also the oldest plant in France, built before the massive nuclear program was launched.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:25:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    They need new sources of electrical generation to replace the nuclear plants destroyed.

    In the short term, they can probably compensate with fossil fuels. But they are consciencious about the Kyoto protocol, and will need renewables.

    They have hardly touched wind : about 2 GW of capacity, well under 1% of total capacity. They can't just apply off-the-shelf solutions : the windy places (far north, far south) are far from electricity consumers. The south is cyclonic. There are plenty of mountains with strong winds, but they are hard to access, and the winds are turbulent.

    Surely they are ripe for some major offshore wind?

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

    by eurogreen on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:55:46 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If my limited understanding is correct, the flooding with seawater as emergency coolant has effectively killed the two reactors in which it was used.  They are now both inoperable and will never be back in electricity production again.

    That's a mighty big loss for TEPCO to swallow.

    Compounding that loss will be the necessity for ongoing cleanup and all the costs that entails.

    Such losses are peculiar to nuclear power and will be part of the continuing discussions about its future.  Along with what may be the millions of doses of precautionary potassium iodide pills distributed to the surrounding population during and after evacuation.

    Kinda gives one pause.

    Solar IS Civil Defense

    by gmoke on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 05:40:52 PM EST
    According to the German nuclear industry guy:

    Why I am not worried about Japan's nuclear reactors. | Morgsatlarge - blogorific.

    • The seawater will then be replaced over time with the "normal" cooling water
    • The reactor core will then be dismantled and transported to a processing facility, just like during a regular fuel change.
    • Fuel rods and the entire plant will be checked for potential damage. This will take about 4-5 years.
    • The safety systems on all Japanese plants will be upgraded to withstand a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (or worse)

    Well, 4-5 years check; but I wonder if corrosion from seawater and damage from overpressure might not call for the replacement of main parts.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:03:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    He's talking about unit 1. If it wasn't about to be decommissioned for being 40 years old, it's probably completely out of commission now. It's probably cheaper and safer to put in a new reactor than to fix the damage in this one. I would not send the reactor core to a fuel reprocessing facility, but to a waste disposal facility.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:22:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Unit 3 is experiencing the same.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:59:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And already being killed dead with seawater and boric acid.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:04:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So?

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:37:23 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Also presumably permanently out of commission, contrary to what the "why I am not worried" writeup implied.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:39:58 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A relevant bit from your link downthread:

    Stop the radiation!: ~ REAL INFORMATION FROM EXPERTS on meldown: Metafilter ~

    The big problem isn't the boric acid -- though it is an acid, and it can increase corrosion. The big problem is the chlorides in seawater. They'll need to be cleaned out before the reactor is safe to use again, and given the age of the Fukushima #1 reactors, it probably won't be worth doing so


    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:41:55 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In the '80s I worked for ESCO in Portland, and we made various large austenitic stainless steel castings for the nuclear energy industry and for nuclear-powered submarines. The problem then was rapid deterioration and replacement of pipes, valves, etc. due to stress corrosion cracking, where the 'stress' was largely due to accumulation of slight local displacements due to radiation. Eventually, microcracks (many) formed, and, if there was a chloride present, it found its way within. Beginning of the end.

    I have little doubt that everything made of steel in those facilities will sit around for some years to 'cool'; then will be cut up for scrap - although the 'hottest' material may be buried.

    paul spencer

    by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:15:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, great, but what about the possibility of something even bigger than a 9.0 earthquake, like a really big typhoon, or one of them Airbus 380s crashing into the plant, or a terrist attack, or a Godzilla attack? What will you do THEN, Mr. Nuclear Power Booster, what will you do THEN???

    I can hardly wait to read the articles about how Honda is going to send their walking robot into the plant to dismantle the reactor core, "just like during a regular fuel change." As if during regular fuel changes you have to deal with melted fuel rods...

    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:23:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That continues to be the problem with nukes. Nuke can only ever be as good as the worst instantiation - politically, financially, and technically.

    Uniquely in engineering, it's a technology that wilfully ignores Murphy, while pretending to itself and everyone that it has Murphy covered.

    This isn't a problem for renewables. The worst that can happen is that a mega-storm takes out your entire windfarm. You lose capacity, but you don't get millions of casualties.

    With nukes, the worst that can happen is that hundreds of square miles of prime territory become uninhabitable. Is it even possible to put a number on that risk?

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:44:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You mean like this?:

    "History has show again and again,
    How Nature points out the folly of men
    Godzilla!"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiHRm2DioMA

    And this is pretty much shear luck:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoreham_Nuclear_Power_Plant

    If a pro nuke whore had been governor, things would be different. But, maybe there would have been a different target for the 9-11 air-jackings:

    Nb41

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:19:16 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    On the other hand, humans have a very large tolerance for stupidity, particularly when it comes to environmental hazards. Here in Colorado Springs, there is a huge, gigantic, mind-boggling pile of waste "dirt" from the gold processing that went on here in the early part of the 20th century. The pile of dirt has sat there for 100 years, right in the middle of town (well, technically, it's about five blocks away from downtown). Nothing grows on it because of the cyanide, heavy metals, and other junk in it. It just sits there, except when the wind blows dust from it all over the place--or when it rains and washes more of the dirt into Fountain Creek.

    Recently a developer has bought some of it and is putting up high-end housing. Potential owners are advised that they will have to comply with covenants limiting their garden plantings, because the layer of topsoil spread over the toxic waste is so thin.

    The advertisement: http://www.goldhillmesa.com/location.html

    The reality: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/355826/the_305_million_pile_history_will_be_buried_homes_born/

    Moral: Don't get your hopes up for the end of nukes just because of one or two "smallish" "incidents."

    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:12:53 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Huh... Is this even legal? Where is EPA? Where are zoning laws and such?

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:21:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hello, this is 'merica. The magic invisible guiding hand of the free market will take care of it.
    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:24:34 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My boss in FC told me about the similar story near Boulder and the rock ridge nuclear site.
    by njh on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 08:10:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Rocky Flats, maybe you mean. Where they machined the plutonium cores for the H bombs. And let the pollution just waft over Denver... Now the site of three smallish wind turbines--and ongoing lawsuits and investigations even though the site is officially cleaned up.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Flats_Plant

    Or maybe you mean the Rocky Mountain arsenal, a few miles away on the east side of Denver, where they stored tons of nerve gas in rusting 55 gallon drums, and then when it was time to build a new airport, conveniently found that they could just spread a bit of dirt on the toxic waste and presto-change-o, there's a new park!
    http://www.fws.gov/rockymountainarsenal/

    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 08:42:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Can't remember.  But I remember the 4 and 5 storey houses that needed a 20 minute drive just to pick up some milk.
    by njh on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:36:05 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:32:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What's that word again?  I think it's five letters long and starts with a 'g'?
    by Jace on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:34:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One little detail about that sexy, magazine-selling explosion: TEPCO is attributing it to an aftershock of the main earthquake which took place at 15h36.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:24:27 PM EST
    I have a hard time piecing that together, though. The USGS lists a 4.9 aftershock six minutes earlier, but hundreds of kilometres away, and another 5.0 one exactly at 15:36 local time, even more further away. And the explosion shakes the earth, too.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:27:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I pointed that out in this comment. At the time my best guess was that this was the event they might be referring to, but that's 7 minutes off. The one that matches the time is this one bt that's far from the coast:


    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:37:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I thought about propagation time. If my source is right, earthquake P waves travel at around 6 km/s on the surface, the distance for the 4.9 quake is 234 km, that's 39 seconds only. This is too little. For the 5.0 one however, the distance is 323 km, that's 54 seconds, too long.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:54:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I truly wish i had known of this diary when I shared some Bordeaux with the author an hour or so ago. There might have been some points to make, and some discussion. But we mostly spoke of offshore wind.

    Isn't it a bit too soon to postulate that radiation leaks don't kill people. (Don't we already have one worker death?... though that could be my error in attempting to parse so much detail in such a short time.)

    And isn't there a discog between how the French technocracy deals with problems as compared to shipping nukes to the countries which give us disposable underwear that unravels after the seventh wash?

    My point has always been, and remains to be, that in the last two hundred years (or 2,000) there hasn't been one decade without serious social disruption. And we guarantee nuclear security how? for how long?

    i'm reminded of my debate with the VP Nuclear for GE, filmed for some film, where i likened him to the guy who jumps out the high rise window, and halfway down, yells, "So far so good."

    There will be a hell of a lot of pontificating on all sides over the next weeks, with a very low signal to noise ratio. Methinks we all really should let the rads settle, and events unfold, before we decide what to do.

    Though i will say i've watched a few windpower meltdowns in my day, well, they didn't melt, they just sort of spun too quickly, and fell down somewhat twisted. Didn't seem to endanger civilization as a whole.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

    by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:25:27 PM EST
    Don't we already have one worker death?

    He fell from a smokestack.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:30:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    See, SEE??? Nukes are dangerous! You wouldn't see anybody falling off a wind turbine, or getting fried by a mis-aimed solar collector mirror, or drowning in a hydroelectric supply lake.

    NO NUKES!

    by asdf on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:34:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    TEPCO: Plant Status of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (as of 9pm March 13th)
    Casualty
    - 2 workers of cooperative firm were injured at the occurrence of
      the earthquake, and were transported to the hospital.
    - 1 TEPCO employee who was not able to stand by his own with his hand
      holding left chest was transported to the hospital by an ambulance.
    - 1 subcontract worker at important earthquake-proof building was
      unconscious and transported to the hospital by an ambulance.
    - The radiation exposure of 1 TEPCO employee, who was working inside
      the reactor building, exceeded 100mSv and was transported to
      the hospital.
    - 2 TEPCO employees felt bad during their operation in the central
      control rooms of Unit 1 and 2 while wearing full masks, and were
      transferred to Fukushima Daini Power Station for consultation with
      a medical advisor.
    - 4 workers were injured and transported to the hospital after explosive
      sound and white smoke were confirmed around the Unit 1.
    - Presence of 2 TEPCO employees at the site are not confirmed


    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:46:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    TEPCO: Plant Status of Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Station (as of 11pm March 12th)
    A seriously injured worker who had been trapped in the crane operating
    console of the exhaust stack was transported to the ground at 5:13pm and
    confirmed dead at 5:17pm. We sincerely pray for the repose of his soul.
    A worker was lightly injured spraining his left ankle and cutting both
    knees when he fell while walking at the site. The worker has returned to
    work after medical treatment and rest.
    This is the latest press release for Dai-Ni mentioning any casualties.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:56:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    To be fair, there are a couple of wind turbine deaths/yr. ~Increasing since China came on board. (to be doubly fair, way less than the normal utility industry.)

    They're bad, like electrocution, or fires, or falling. But generally not affecting the progeny's genetic code.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

    by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:46:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There is one employee of TEPCO reported with radiation exposure. All other casualties are normal injuries.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:48:08 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, is it not also true that there are already bystanders with rad exposure?

    And isn't a fair amount of rad exposure science brought to you by the folks who KNOW there is no danger to the ecosystem from the release of genetically altered flora?

    from a technical standpoint, and nuclear is somewhat technical, the reason we put blowout preventers on undersea oil wells is to prevent blowouts.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

    by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:54:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, Japan nuclear alert and earthquake - Saturday 12 March
    The safety agency also warned that the number of individuals exposed to radiation from the plant could reach as high as 160.
    But the number confirmed is 22.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:03:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    To be fair, it is hard to see how GMOs could be harmful if the proper pre-approval studies (rate of spread, rate of interbreeding with local flora, etc.) are done to ascertain that it is not behaving as an invasive species.

    The problem here is that I don't trust the regulatory authorities to do their jobs, not that I don't trust the technology. The fact that GMOs have been pushed in the WTO as if it were a trade issue rather than a regulatory compliance issue does not endear me to the idea either.

    - Jake

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:23:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When wind turbines melt down, they just get recycled.

    But the optics of this say it all. Only in a few hard core countries who either want bomb grade material, or else who have governmental addiction to the nuke establishment as well as a feeling that they are already in too deep. So much for the Frank Zappa argument:

    "it can't happen here"

    Looks like japan will finally have to get serious about wind turbines and geothermal.

    Check this awesome post from The Oil Drum:

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7638#more

    Nb41

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:25:25 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Crazy Horse:

    Isn't it a bit too soon to postulate that radiation leaks don't kill people.

    Just saw a Swedish professor of nuclear safety on the tv and he thought it was to early to call, might still be a meltdown.

    Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

    by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:28:26 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Oil Drum | How Black Is the Japanese Nuclear Swan?
    The following is a guest post from friend of TOD Nicole Foss who blogs at The Automatic Earth as Stoneleigh. The subject of Stoneleigh's master thesis at Warwick University was nuclear safety. Subsequently at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, her research field was power systems, with a specific focus on nuclear safety in Eastern Europe.


    The Japanese earthquake is a tragedy of epic proportions in so many ways. The situation continues to evolve, and the full scope of the disaster will not be understood for a long time. 

    One critical aspect is the effect on Japan's nuclear industry, which provides over 30% of the country's electricity from 54 reactors. Some of the largest nuclear plants in the world (Fukushima Dai-ichi and Fukushima Dai-ni, 4696 MW and 4400 MW, respectively) are located close to the epicentre, and on the coast, directly in the path of the resulting tsunami:



    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 06:53:24 PM EST
    The Oil Drum | How Black Is the Japanese Nuclear Swan?
    The Fukushima 1 plant was equipped with 13 diesel back-up generators to power the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS), but all of these failed.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:00:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Oil Drum | How Black Is the Japanese Nuclear Swan?
    A hydrogen release is very much part of a meltdown scenario, and difficult to imagine hydrogen explosion scenarios on the scale of what was seen at Fukushima 1 that would not involve compromising the reactor pressure vessel:


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:05:31 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Oil Drum | How Black Is the Japanese Nuclear Swan?
    Given the detection of radioactive caesium, which could only have come from inside exposed fuel rods beginning to burn, and the subsequent violent explosion, it is difficult to imagine scenarios not involving substantial destruction of the reactor.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:06:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This is where I was yesterday. Now I'm more inclined to think the sequence of events went like this:

    1. Coolant loss and core exposure.
    2. Beginnings of meltdown create hydrogen and cesium.
    3. Hydrogen, cesium, oxygen and nitrogen are vented into the concrete surround building.
    4. Hydrogen and oxygen go boom, perhaps after the concrete weakens. Cesium and perhaps some a small amount of uranium get dispersed over a wide area.
    5. But the core survives.

    If the core were exposed, it's likely it would steaming, glowing, or on fire.

    Now - admittedly it looks like there's no independent monitoring, so unless there's still a TV crew a few miles away, anything could be happening.

    The only way to be sure that the core is intact is to check radiation north of the plant.

    But I think if there were a massive breach, the evacuees would be much hotter, and there would be thousands of radiation warnings, and not just a handful.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:23:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    Nuclear insiders in many jurisdictions are notorious for being an unaccountable power unto themselves, and failing to release critical information publicly.


    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
    by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:21:57 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    I disagree with all these assertions. Looking at the full life-cycle energy inputs for nuclear power, it seems to be barely above the minimum EROEI for maintaining society, and the costs (in both money and energy terms) are front-loaded.

    Scaling up nuclear capacity takes extrordinary amounts of both money and time. While construction can be speeded up, where this has been done (as it was in Russia), the deleterious effect on construction standards was significant. Uranium reserves, especially the high-grade ores, are depleting rapidly. The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the full life-cycle do not impress me. In addition, nuclear authorities make risk decisions without informing the public. They have consistently made risk calculations that have grossly underestimated the potential for accidents of the kind that can have generational impacts.

    In my view, nuclear power represents an unjustified faith in the power of human societies to control extremely complex technologies over the very long term. Any activity requiring a great deal of complex and cooperative control will do badly in difficult economic times.

    Also, no human society has ever lasted for as long as nuclear waste must be looked after. It needs to be held in pools on site for perhaps a hundred years in order to cool down enough for permanent disposal, assuming a form of permanent disposal could be conceived of, approved and developed. During this period, the knowledge as to how this must be done will need to be maintained, and this may be more difficult than is currently supposed.



    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
    by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:24:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    no human society has ever lasted for as long as nuclear waste must be looked after.

    Have you seen the film "Into Eternity"? It's a documentary on the construction of the world's first final waste disposal site in Finland. It has to be built to last 100,000 years, a time span beyond human comprehension. All sorts of mind-boggling questions come into consideration.

    Do you leave "markers" above ground to warn people of the danger? In what 'language' (they considered Edvard Munch's "Scream")? No, because people would just mess with the site out of curiosity.

    Do you leave some sort of archive? To whom? A caste of specialists? That concept is called "atomic priesthood", which is unrealistic since that would expect an 'atomic religion' with its myths and rituals to persist for 100,000 years.

    If it's best left alone how do you make people forget about the site?

    Schengen is toast!

    by epochepoque on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 10:52:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Fill the mine shaft (I assume it's in an old salt mine or something like that) with concrete. Any civilisation with sufficiently determined archaeologists to go through a hundred meter of concrete to get to your ancient burial chamber either makes sure to check for radiation (from radon emissions from the concrete, if nothing else) or is too dumb to live anyway.

    - Jake

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:23:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Filling the tunnel mouth with concrete will happen at decommissioning sometime after 2100. Are we even going make it till then? You have to hope and plan.

    People could accidentally encounter the tunnel without drilling through the concrete. It is possible to dig hundreds of meters without advanced industrial equipment, without knowing anything about radioactivity. Very unlikely but possible. It's the time span that makes the whole project incomprehensible.



    Schengen is toast!

    by epochepoque on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 09:23:42 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Update on Japan's Nuclear Power Crisis | Union of Concerned Scientists

    March 13, 2011, 3:30 p.m.--The nuclear crisis in Japan took a turn for the worse as serious problems developed at a second reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear facility. Earlier concerns were focused on reactor Unit 1, but now the situation at Unit 3 is becoming serious.

    Officials from Tokyo Electric reported that after multiple cooling system failures, the water level in the Unit 3 reactor vessel dropped 3 meters (nearly 10 feet), uncovering approximately 90 percent of each of the fuel rods in the core.

    Authorities were able to inject cooling water with a fire pump after reducing the containment pressure by a controlled venting of radioactive gas. As with Unit 1, they began pumping seawater into Unit 3. Seawater is highly corrosive and probably precludes any future use of the reactor, even if a crisis is averted.

    However, Tokyo Electric recently reported that the water level in the Unit 3 reactor still remains more than 2 meters (6 feet) below the top of the fuel and company officials believe that water may be leaking from the reactor vessel. When the fuel is uncovered by water, it overheats and suffers damage. It is likely that the fuel has experienced significant damage at this point, and Japanese authorities have said they are proceeding on this assumption.



    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 07:23:19 PM EST
    if these nukes were about to be decommissioned, then surely this is a big crossroads, whether to up the ante and rebuild nukes, with even more hyper-paranoid insistence on 'safety measures' up to a, say, level of 11 so these pesky 9's can't phase it, then up the seawalls against the tsunamis, by which time you've probably doubled the unit cost.

    the other big question i don't see asked yet is what green alternatives japan has to sub into their place.

    is there decent tidal or wind to harvest? i imagine solar not being too significant, though still eminently sensible, seeing how germany lacks for sun yet has mounted a decent amount of arrays.

    ar-rays...cute.

    i know the japanese like their toys, a more gizmo-happy race'd be hard to find, and they like to have tokyo at night visible from alpha centauri, but assuming their priorities may be amenable to the kinds of shifts their landmass is undergoing, i hope there is massive public motivation to take a higher road, if the whole area is not rendered a mausoleum for a few tens of generations that is.

    fingers crossed for progressive energy policy leadership to be reborn in the land of the rising sun.

    the japanese are such obedient people, their complete lack of panic and social cohesion does them proud in these extreme situations.

    as CH reminds us of the suicidally stupid decision to place nuke plants so close to fault lines, i hope some authorities in california are seriously considering some plan b so to decommission diablo canyon et al ASAP.

    apollo programme, world wide, full tilt boogie, we have 40 years of heads in the sand to catch up and compensate for.

    i also hope marroni is reconsidering his braindead plan for italy to rejoin the 'nuclear club'.

    maroon, the cement companies are all mobbed out, way to make them richer, they did such a great job with the rubbish in naples, and the radioactive ships scuttled off calabria, you know this is going to pan out just dandy.

    japan's nuclear hara-kiri, the writing on the wall for everyone else...

    it does level the propaganda playing field for greener energies, against the massive superiority in media advantage the pro nukers have.


    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 13th, 2011 at 08:45:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I saw a windfarm or two in Kyushu (and quite a few roofs with solar panels are noticable on a train between Kobe and Osaka, say).

    But Japan's landscape and politics does not appear to be favourable:

    "To construct wind stations, you need to find places where strong winds blow. But such places are often on mountains or on the coastlines of islands and peninsulas, and the landforms are complex," said Hiroshi Imamura, a senior researcher at wind power consulting firm Wind Energy Institute of Tokyo.

    Complex land features create unstable winds, making it difficult to stabilize power generation. And the several typhoons that either swipe or cross Japan each year threaten to damage the stations, hamstringing progress in Japan's wind power quest...

    "It's understandable that power companies are buying less wind power out of concern over unreliable supply," said Arakawa.

    Power surges can be a problem for industrial customers, said Hirotaka Hayashi, a spokesman at Hokkaido Electric. Utilities often need to cut back power generation at other plants to lessen the effect of excess power from wind energy.

    "Continental European countries such as Germany and Denmark can transfer excess power from windmills to other countries," said Arakawa. "The electricity networks of Japan's 10 utilities aren't connected like those in Europe. That's the reason why it's difficult to install windmills in Japan."

    To ensure steady supply, Tohoku Electric Power Co., Japan's fourth-biggest generator, in March started requiring owners of new windmills to store energy in batteries before distribution rather than send the electricity direct to the utility, said spokesman Satoshi Arakawa.

    .... That requirement has increased wind project installation costs to 300,000 yen ($2,560) per kilowatt, from 200,000 yen, according to Toshiro Ito, vice president of EcoPower Co., Japan's third-biggest wind power supplier.

    Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy, believes Japan's dominant electric companies are preventing the growth of wind power. The country's 10 electric companies are formidable regional monopolies. The largest dominate the areas of Tokyo, Chiba and Kansai, and they leverage significant political clout.

    "They act as regional monopolies, functional monopolies, and political monopolies," Iida said. "They are the rule makers and they make an effort to exclude wind power from their grid."

    And here is a comment from the hot Oil Drum diary:

    Where is the Prius built and designed? How about the Insight? How about a lot of the PV cells? The turbines that go inside windmills? For better or worse, the majority of "conservation" technologies have been built and designed in Japan. How did they do this? They built nuclear power plants to have clean reliable power. Semiconductor lines don't operate properly with even the slightest power fluctuations. You are never going to operate them with wind or solar power. This disaster's impacts on global supply chains are only beginning to be felt, let alone imagined. BAU just took a major hit in the BUTt. IMHO

    by das monde on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:27:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    thanks dm, like i said, hara kiri.

    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 06:03:07 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Regarding the "Why I am not worried" piece (written by a German nuclear industry guy), in the other thread, das monde linked to a reply, OK, let us go through what he wrote. Which one to trust more, I don't know, but the one thing that caught my eyes too was the German nuclear industry guy's claim about a core catcher in the Fukushima plant.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:43:18 AM EST
    Actually, there was another thing, the handwaving about radiation levels without quantification; but the reply only addresses half-lifes and handwaves itself on the rest.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:47:13 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When one makes a statement like this:


    The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.

    you realize that the author has no understanding of, nor respect for, the chain of life which nourishes him.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

    by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:21:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Bye bye frequent sushi. Plus, close regions have the biggest rice production in Japan. What are Japanese to eat?
    by das monde on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:36:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Pollution to prevent overfishing? Wouldn't that be ironic.
    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:28:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, yes and no. The chemical toxicity may be a problem, but the radiation is not. Low-intensity radiation damage takes the form of elevated risks of cancer and birth defects. In humans this is a severe increase in mortality and morbidity, at least in industrial societies. For most animal species, it's not even a rounding error.

    Chemical pollution, over-exploitation, habitat destruction, and even the inevitable risks the animal faces in its natural environment - from predators, exposure, inability to obtain sufficient nourishment, and so on - all kill orders of magnitude more animals just as dead as any radiation damage.

    - Jake

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:39:02 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Caesium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Caesium compounds are rarely encountered by most people, but most caesium compounds are mildly toxic because of chemical similarity of caesium to potassium. Exposure to large amounts of caesium compounds can cause hyperirritability and spasms, but as such amounts would not ordinarily be encountered in natural sources, caesium is not a major chemical environmental pollutant.

    ...

    Radiocaesium does not accumulate in the body as effectively as many other fission products (such as radioiodine and radiostrontium). As with other alkali metals, radiocaesium washes out of the body relatively quickly in sweat and urine. However, radiocaesium follows potassium and tends to accumulate in plant tissues, including fruits and vegetables.

    Caesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years which means it persists in the environment but is not an intense source of radiation. The fact that it accumulates in vegetables is a problem.

    Iodine 131 is a more serious short-terms threat, because it accumulates in thyroid tissue and due to its 8-day halflife it's a relatively intense beta emitter. This is why people are given iodine pills as a prophylactic measure.

    Isotopes of iodine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Iodine-131 (I131) is a beta-emitting isotope with a half-life of eight days, and comparatively energetic (190 KeV average and 606 KeV maximum energy) beta radiation, which penetrates 0.6 to 2.0 mm from the site of uptake. This beta radiation can be used in high dose for destruction of thyroid nodules and for elimination of remaining thyroid tissue after surgery for the treatment of Grave's disease. Especially in Grave's disease, often a thyroidectomy is performed before the radiotherapy, in order to avoid side effects of epilation and radiation toxicity. The purpose of this therapy, which was first explored by Dr. Saul Hertz in 1941,[1] is to destroy the remaining thyoid tissue that was impossible to be removed by surgery. In this procedure, I131 is administered either intravenously or orally following a diagnostic scan. This procedure may also be used to treat patients with thyroid cancer or hyperfunctioning thyroid tissue.

    After the intake, the beta particles emitted by the high dose of radioisotope destroys the associated thyroid tissue with little damage to surrounding tissues (more than 2.0 mm from the tissues absorbing the iodine). Due to similar destruction, iodine-131 is the iodine radioisotope used in other water-soluble iodine-labeled radiopharmaceuticals (such as MIBG) which are intended to be used therapeutically to destroy tissues.

    The high energy beta radiation from I-131 causes it to be the most carcinogenic of the iodine isotopes, and it is thought to cause the majority of the excess in thyroid cancers seen after nuclear fission contamination (such as bomb fallout or severe nuclear reactor accidents like the Chernobyl disaster).



    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 09:43:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    An ecology is a Chaotic system.  As such a minor change in birth propagation can iterate to substantial effects.  

    She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
    by ATinNM on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:42:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Such as



    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:21:15 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This from Stop the Radiation! (also don't know how trustworthy)
    To contain, indefinitely, a complete core meltdown. For that purpose, a large and thick concrete basin is cast under the pressure vessel (the second containment), which is filled with graphite, all inside the third containment. This is the so-called "core catcher". If the core melts and the pressure vessel bursts (and eventually melts), it will catch the molten fuel and everything else. It is built in such a way that the nuclear fuel will be spread out, so it can cool down.

    That would be news to me -- and this graphite wouldn't be exposed to air, like the moderator in Chernobyl #4 was. The Fuel Pool (which is the core catcher on these BWR) is stated to be reinforced concrete with a cooling system, not graphite. I'm looking for the full design documents on a GE BWR-3 with a Mark I containment.

    This is a good drawing (with a couple of annotations) on the basic layout. Note the torus below. This is where vented steam goes to condense, and if there was a full core meltdown, this is where it would flow.

    Remember -- there are a lot of reactor designs out there. The most common BWRs are GE BWR 1 through 6, and the ABWR. In design is the ESBWR. This is a BWR-3 with a Mark 1 containment, if it's not talking about an BWR-3 with an Mark 1 containment, it's not actually telling you anything about Fukushima 1 Reactor 1.

    (my emphasis)

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:50:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Lots of pro-nuke people on the radio this morning, saying a) the fact  that the reactors havent catastrophically exploded throwing glowing debris everywhere have proved how safe reactors actually are and b) DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE MINING COAL IN CHINA EVERY YEAR?

    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 06:32:09 AM EST
    Do we have estimates of casualties per MWh, by industry?

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 06:47:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Environmental effects of wind power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    In his book Wind Energy Comes of Age, Paul Gipe estimated that the mortality rate for wind power from 1980-1994 was 0.4 deaths per terawatt-hour.[55][56] Paul Gipe's estimate as of end 2000 was 0.15 deaths per TWh, a decline attributed to greater total cumulative generation.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 07:15:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Environmental effects of nuclear power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    A 2004 article from the BBC states: "The World Health Organization (WHO) says 3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions, and 1.6 million indoors through using solid fuel."[21] In the U.S. alone, fossil fuel waste kills 20,000 people each year.[22] A coal power plant releases 100 times as much radiation as a nuclear power plant of the same wattage.[23] It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island accident.[24] The World Nuclear Association provides a comparison of deaths due to accidents among different forms of energy production. In their comparison, deaths per TW-yr of electricity produced from 1970 to 1992 are quoted as 885 for hydropower, 342 for coal, 85 for natural gas, and 8 for nuclear.[25]


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 07:17:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Looks to me like this disaster is being used by pretty much everyone to support their preconceptions.

    <shrug>

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 07:18:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Japan tsunami: fresh fears after second nuclear explosion - Channel 4 News
    10.00 European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says that a special European Union summit on nuclear safety should look into the legal, technical, economic and political consequences of Japan's nuclear crisis. EU energy ministers, nuclear plant operators and builders and regulators are holding a special meeting on the Japan crisis on Tuesday (Reuters).


    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 07:16:54 AM EST
    Gillard rules out nuclear power in Australia - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

    Julia Gillard has ruled out the possibility of nuclear energy in Australia, defended her "cringeworthy" speech to American Congress and been questioned by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the ABC's Q&A program.

    One audience member raised concerns about nuclear power in Australia, given the current crisis in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami on Friday.

    Three reactors at a quake-damaged nuclear power plant in northern Japan have lost their cooling capacity, raising fears of a meltdown.

    But Ms Gillard said the Labor Party had not entertained the proposition of nuclear power in Australia.

    "The Labor position is entirely clear, we don't think we need nuclear energy," she said.



    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 09:41:37 AM EST
    Yeah, Australia's Labour party only entertains Coal.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 09:44:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BBC News - LIVE: Japan earthquake
    The German coalition is discussing suspending for three months the extension of its nuclear power stations' lifespan, a government coalition source has told Reuters.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 10:30:54 AM EST
    Why for so long? The Baden-Württemberg elections are in only a few weeks....
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 10:37:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That would be a bit to obvious. Not that it doesn't  looks like a trick anyway.
    by IM on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:27:06 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Merkel suspends nuclear extension over Japanese risks | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14.03.2011

    Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday pledged a three-month pause in her government's plan to extend the running times of Germany's nuclear power plants.

    She said that this would mean that some of the oldest reactors will be turned off, at least temporarily, almost immediately.

    Merkel said that the risks of a meltdown at the Fukushima atomic reactors in Japan, triggered by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the region, had shown the world that nuclear safety should be reevaluated.

    "The events in Japan have taught us that something, which all scientific data suggested to be impossible, could become a reality after all," Merkel told reporters in Berlin, having first said how her thoughts, and Germany's, were with the Japanese people. "It's taught us that risks that were considered absolutely improbable still aren't impossible."

    It's raining Itoldyousos on her.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:40:13 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    According to taz, federal and regional authorities are already moving to order the closing down of two plants that only run now due to the extension (Neckarwestheim 1 in Baden-Württenberg and Isar I in Bavaria).

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:49:37 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Now it's seven reactors (Neckarwestheim I, Isar I, Biblis A and B, Unterweser, Philippsburg I and the currently off-line Brunsbüttel), but still only for three months. For the German electricity system, this will mean... a reduction of net exports, nothing more. The energy giants could sue against the decision, but haven't yet protested.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 01:43:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The first reactor, Isar 1, was already shut down today.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 05:16:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Berlakovich wants nuclear power plant 'stress tests' - Politics News - Austrian Independent Online News - English Newspaper
    People's Party (ÖVP) Environment and Agriculture Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich suggested nuclear power plants in Europe should undergo "stress tests" in the wake of occurrences in Japan.
    Let's just hope the stress tests are not as much of a joke as the banking stress tests.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:37:13 AM EST
    Of course there is no nuclear power station in Austria. Demanding tests for others is always a good game.
    by IM on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:43:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    1. Nuclear fallout knows not boundaries.
    2. Do you oppose subjecting German nuclear power plants to stress tests or retrofitting?


    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:50:04 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You don't say.

    Power production on the other hand, at least until now, does know national boundaries. So other countries would have to grapple with the need to replace nuclear power.

    2. Of course not! I demand stress test everywhere except Germany or perhaps except in the german states ruled by my party.

    Really, don't project your nationalistic thinking on me.  

    I am an utterly conventional supporter of the policy of the last red-green government in this area.

    by IM on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:21:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    All

    AFT = About Fuckin Time!

    The key acronym is LOCA (Loss of Cooling Accident), which is NEVER supposed to happen. If it does happen, for ANY reason, the nuke should have NEVER been constructed and/or operated (if constructed by not operated, like the Shoreham nuke (in Long Island next to NYC, then the owner usually goes bankrupt, as was the case with Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) - which actually did happen, and LILCO bacame LIPA). They (Tokyo Electric) might actually be able to avoid a Chernobyl event, for now, but only barely. That this LOCA event went on for more than an hour is an IMMENSE FUBAR.

    We now have TWO confirmed LOCA's and subsequent H2 explosions at the Fukushima complex. To make a big H2 boom, you have to make a lot of H2, which evidently comes from this reaction:

    Zr + 2 H2O  -->  ZrO2 + 2 H2

    So this means that lots of Zr fuel cladding has turned into zirconia and lots of H2, and that the really hot UO2 fuel pellets (self heating due to daughter products radioactive (via beta emission) decay) are now exposed to hot steam and some nasty "daughters" are puking out of the system via the steam vents. Just to add spice to the gumbo, Unit 3 has about 5% Mixed Oxide Fuel (plutonium 239 based, but also some Pu240).

    Supposedly the daughters can provide 5 to 7% of the thermal energy of a fissioning facility, but since the Unit 1 was evidently about to get changed out, this could be more like 15%. For a 480 MW unit, this would mean that 36 to 72 MW of heat had to be removed, assuming that all fission reactions were stopped by the control rod insertion.

    Well, that's a lot of heat. Translated, 7.5% residual heat generation is 36 MW is 122.8 MBtu/hr (millions of Btu/hr), and that is close to 126,000 lbs/hr of steam generation at atmospheric or 15,136 gallons/hr = 252 gpm water evaporation). For the metrically inclined, the 7.5% decay heat removal corresponds to an evaporation rate of 57 tonnes/hr of water. At 15%, you can double that. That's a lot of water buckets...... On the other hand, a gasoline powered water pump with a 2" pipe outlet (50 mm) might be able to do the trick, if they have them handy, and if they have a way to pump this water into the system. Power wise, they need about 25 kw engines to pump this water, or about 35 hp ones.

    And that is needed for EACH active reactor.

    Oh, BTW, they also need lots of cooling for those swimming pools where all those spent fuel rods are "cooling" off. While no where nearly as hot, take those out of water and they will also start glowing cherry red after a few minutes to a few hours. And when those catch on fire, well, that's just another massive load of stuff to hit the fan.

    Oh yes, totally safe, nothing for mere mortals to discuss, trust the big government - big corporate hybrid, they know all, they know what is best, just rest your weary head, they will surely pass this test that "no one could have foreseen". And BTW, quit watching that damn You-Tube video of the TWO explosions on the top of the reactor buildings in Japan... that might lead you to think "not correct" thoughts, and if you think incorrect thoughts, that will REALLY lead to bad problems.

    What a nasty Black Swan this one is turning out to be. And one of the characteristics of kick-ass Black Swan Events is that they are game changing events. I would bet that this qualifies...

    Nb41

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:43:18 PM EST
    nb41:
    Supposedly the daughters can provide 5 to 7% of the thermal energy of a fissioning facility, but since the Unit 1 was evidently about to get changed out, this could be more like 15%. For a 480 MW unit, this would mean that 36 to 72 MW of heat had to be removed, assuming that all fission reactions were stopped by the control rod insertion.
    You can find the rated powers of the reactors on the wikipedia page.

    DaiIchi 1: 460MW
    DaiIchi 2 and 3: 784 MW

    All the reactors at Dai-Ni, three of the four are undergoing LoCA events, are rated 1.1GW each.

    One of the Onagawa Plant reactors (operated by Tohaku, a different utility) is also reportedly in LoC. The ratings are 524MW and 2x825 MW.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 12:50:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Eeks. Or, as The Onion magazine is known to say in such circumstances, Holy Fucking Shit!

    Nb41

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 10:17:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    nb41:
    On the other hand, a gasoline powered water pump with a 2" pipe outlet (50 mm) might be able to do the trick, if they have them handy, and if they have a way to pump this water into the system. Power wise, they need about 25 kw engines to pump this water, or about 35 hp ones.

    Is this power needed in excess of internal pressure?so would those pumps be able to pump against the Nominal 75 atmosphere internal system pressure?

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

    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:01:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I have heard that the pressure was bled down, so it is or should be near atmospheric pressure. Obviously, the higher the pressure difference you pump against the more power the pump would need. This number relates to a 1 ATM pressure drop.

    As an ultimate jury rig, you could use a fire truck to pump these flow rates, as long as the pressure drop was not too severe. You could also put pumps together in series.

    Anyway, we need to wish those at the site the best of luck. Hopefully they also managed to get the fuel rods out of the pools and into somewhere else before these things went bonkers.

    Nb41  

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 10:15:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Something tells me dry cask storage is going to become a lot more popular in the future.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 12:45:51 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Off topic: why Niobium?

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 01:06:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Niobium is fairly inert, high melting point and has a low neutron cross section.
    by njh on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:51:27 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A long while ago, I got a patent on the use of a niobium compound that was a catalyst, along with a sister tantalum compound. These were superacids, such as [H2F][NbF6].

    Tantalum and niobium are also relatively non-toxic -can be used like titanium inside the human body - and it turns out that your cellphone needs a capacitor made of tantalum and tantalum oxide to work, and that is why tantalum is in such hot demand, and also exploited by some very evil scumbags in central Africa. But, good news, because a company called Vishay in Niagara Falls has just come up with a way to use niobium and it's oxide for the same use. And niobium is much more common than tantalum.

    And so, I adopted it for a e-name. And every once in a while, you find people who are "elementarily" aware...

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 10:42:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    We now have TWO confirmed LOCA's and subsequent H2 explosions at the Fukushima complex. To make a big H2 boom, you have to make a lot of H2, which evidently comes from this reaction:

    Zr + 2 H2O  -->  ZrO2 + 2 H2

    So this means that lots of Zr fuel cladding has turned into zirconia and lots of H2, and that the really hot UO2 fuel pellets (self heating due to daughter products radioactive (via beta emission) decay) are now exposed to hot steam and some nasty "daughters" are puking out of the system via the steam vents.

    I thought one known mechanism for hydrogen production was dissociation of cooling/moderator water by neutrons or gamma rays from the nuclear reaction. Can than not possibly produce enough H2 for the kinds of explosions we've seen without assuming the Zircon alloy fuel cylinders have begun to disintegrate?

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:19:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One ton of Zr can make about 88 lbs of H2, which is about 15,780 ft^3 of H2. That would probably be enough to take the roof off the buildings, especially as this would be uniformly distributed over a big area - like a fuel-air bomb. It would be ugly.

    Ionizing water, or catalytically decomposing water at cherry red temps would make both H2 and O2 which could also recombine, especially with all that ionizing radiation. Maybe some ionizing radiation from a "hot" isotope of Xe or I2 kicked off the explosion that blew off the roof...or maybe just a motor or a switch that was not rated" explosion-proof".

    Nb41

    by nb41 on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 11:00:31 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Checking some other sources like this one, I see that the zirconium reaction is indeed considered the primary source of hydrogen gas during meltdowns, and radiolysis as source of hydrogen gas poses more a problem of accumulation.

    I also read that after Chernobyl, to prevent hydrogen gas explosions, plant safety plans foresee the flooding of the vessel with nitrogen so that there is no oxygen to react with. Hence the explosion only outside after venting.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 07:09:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Michael Levi: Energy, Security, and Climate » Blog Archive » Beware Nuclear Policy Experts Talking About Japan

    I have quick piece up at CFR.org assessing the potential policy consequences of the ongoing Japanese nuclear disaster. Short version: Take a look at political prognosticators' track record from the early days of the BP oil spill before you decide to believe anything that's being predicted right now.

    I chose not to write about the nitty-gritty of the current technical situation for a simple reason: I don't really have anything to add to what the honest-to-goodness experts have to say. I know more than enough about the technical ins and outs of nuclear power to speak intelligently about related policy issues, but the situation at the reactors is complex and opaque. Even bona-fide nuclear engineering experts have severe limits to their ability to predict where things are going. A disturbingly large fraction of the people currently opining on television and radio, though, aren't even experts on nuclear technology. They are policy experts who apparently can't say no when people ask them to go on TV and talk about the technical ins and outs of the unfolding situation.



    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 02:55:04 PM EST
    Japan tsunami and nuclear alert - live coverage | World news | guardian.co.uk

    The nuclear emergency in Japan was caused by a cascade of failures in power supply to the plant. The earthquake and tsunami knocked out the main electricity supply lines, then the back-up diesel generator, and finally ran down the emergency battery supply.

    Now here is the scary thought. The Fukushima reactor had eight hour battery reserves.

    The 23 nuclear plants of the same model in the US have just four-hour battery reserves, according to UCS's Ed Lyman.

    And now the (relatively) good news. Lyman notes that the spent fuel pools, which were located above the reactors, may indeed have been compromised. "They have may suffered some structural integrity damage," he said. That raises the risk of an explosion, and possible radiation leak, from the pools if technicans are unable to restore cooling systems.

    But Lyman added: "The inventory of spent fuels in the pools was well below capacity. That could limit potential impact if there was a loss of coolant to the pools."

    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 Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 03:56:37 PM EST
    Spiegel now put the English translation of their cover article on-line (slightly amended for Monday's second explosion, but already dated in terms of domestic events).

    Japan's Chernobyl: Fukushima Marks the End of the Nuclear Era - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

    Japan was still reeling from its largest recorded earthquake when an explosion struck the Fukushima nuclear plant on Saturday, followed by a second blast on Monday. Despite government assurances, there are fears of another Chernobyl. The incident has sparked a heated political debate in Germany and looks likely to end the dream of cheap and safe nuclear power. By SPIEGEL Staff.

    ...

    When the Chernobyl accident occurred, Germany's nuclear industry managed to convince itself, and German citizens, that aging reactors and incapable, sloppy engineers in Eastern Europe were to blame. Western reactors, or so the industry claimed, were more modern, better maintained and simply safer.

    It is now clear how arrogant this self-assured attitude is. If an accident of this magnitude could happen in Japan, it can happen just as easily in Germany. All that's needed is the right chain of fatal circumstances. Fukushima is everywhere.



    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 04:18:33 PM EST
    It is now clear how arrogant this self-assured attitude is. If an accident of this magnitude could happen in Japan, it can happen just as easily in Germany. All that's needed is the right chain of fatal circumstances. Fukushima is everywhere.

    But really what's happened here? A historically large earthquake just off the coast of an active island arc, the plant then gets swamped by a tsunami and craps out. If it wasn't for poor design and location of the backup cooling system, the plant would have been ok. Right?  

    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:23:31 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Adding, I reckon you can find the same arrogant self-assured attitude in any other field of energy without too much difficulty. I think it goes with the territory: big toys without a lot of accidents.
    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:38:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In a word, hubris.

    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:40:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The one thing in short supply.
    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 07:30:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One of these days I'll stop confusing hubris with humility...
    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:29:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Poor design (backup generators for a seaside plant, in a floodable basement), technically clueless management (I bet you they're all lawyers and MBAs with no nuclear engineers) in a panic. TEPCO has a history of forged plant safety reports... As I said in other comments,
    Everyone can crack jokes about Soviet technology, but if this happens to the Japanese we can stop feeling all smug about French and Swedish reactors.

    Not unlike the way the 1997/8 Asian/Russian financial crisis couldn't happen to the "sophisticated" WestTM, and look at the ongoing Global Financial Clusterfuck.



    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 05:39:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Im sure there's a powerful youtube film waiting to be made there if the right clips could be found of talking heads from the world of finance reporting from that period, and nuclear talking heads from the last few days.

    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 06:00:10 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If it wasn't for the clueless management I'd be all for nukes. Usually working with something that is both highly visible and highly toxic and/or fragile means a very cautious approach where you make sure that things don't go boom. Ironically it's often the other fields with supposedly less risk that tend to be more dangerous. Perhaps a fitting analogy is passenger vehicles: commercial aircraft have to be held to a very high standard of safety due to the spectacular nature of their wrecks, automobiles much less so even though they're far more lethal.
    by Jace on Mon Mar 14th, 2011 at 08:20:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Have not felt all tat smug since the Forsmark incident. The internal report turned out that there was an ongoing degradation of the safety culture. This was hushed down (as is done when you have a degraded safety culture), leaked to media, caused a scandal and local management was fired. Not sure anything was done about the safety culture though.

    Appears the local leading politician that claim that failed safety measures did not matter because "the plant is 200% safe, so when half the safety measures fail it is still 100% safe" is no longer a there. Might have moved on to greater heights.

    Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 07:06:08 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Japan earthquake | Page 22 | Liveblog live blogging | Reuters.com
    IEA chief says nuclear power will "come back" because it is a necessary technology to achieve sustainable energy supply, but it will be more expensive.


    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:03:29 AM EST
    Migeru:
    • We need fiscal consolidation and budget austeriry, we can't afford to retrofit the existing plants to higher standards
    • Japan cannot do without 30% of its electric power
    • Nothing to see here, move along.


    So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:11:23 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Japan earthquake | Page 22 | Liveblog live blogging | Reuters.com
    Russian PM Vladimir Putin says the nuclear power plant Russia plans to build in Belarus would be more accident-proof than the plants that have been damaged in Japan, reports Interfax.


    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:36:13 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    BBC News - LIVE: Japan earthquake
    More from US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. He told lawmakers that Americans "should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety" rules and that nuclear plant builders "clearly consider things like tsunamis ... and earthquakes". He added: "Whenever there's an incident such as what's happening in Japan, we have to pay very close attention to that, think very hard."


    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:57:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Japan earthquake | Page 22 | Liveblog live blogging | Reuters.com
    Chu says the Obama administration is still committed to having nuclear power, saying the country "needs a diverse supply of energy".


    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 11:12:53 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I( think thats another step towards Migeru Bingo

    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 11:13:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The ur-problem, as I see it, is the global electric power system is a crazy patch-work, cobbled together with no sense of an over-all design.  Additions to existing power generation infrastructure are bought, built, and attached to the grid are decided using political and economic criteria (read: bribery, corruption, and corporate profit) with little thought given to engineering and system design.

    A second problem is the manufacturers of goods and services using electric power are able to capture "externality" profit because they are not billed for the increase in electrical power their goods and services demand.  Thus they do not have any incentive to lower or limit the electric power needed to power their product(s.)

    A third problem is illustrated by the ceebs' posted quote.  Supposed experts and objective commentators are incapable of critical thinking.  Nuclear power generating plants have never been forced to pay for the totality of all costs, from the medical costs for the increased cancer rates of the local population where uranium mining is done to the costs of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel.  Nuclear power is only "sustainable" (sic) IF these costs are excluded in the cost/benefit analysis.

    She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

    by ATinNM on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:40:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Nuclear power generating plants have never been forced to pay for the totality of all costs

    Also true for all the fossil fuels as well, of course.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 10:55:03 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When i was invited to the Reagan White House to debate tax support for renewable energy, and the technology of windpower, we were just in the first years of the Great Deregulation. Any number of industries were being deregulated, but of course not energy.

    I told them we wouldn't need any subsidy if they deregulated energy while including all external costs, period. Further, i threatened to make a media circus of their exclusion of energy from deregulation.

    They decided not to cut the renewable support. Not because they took may threats seriously, but because we were then just too small potatoes. At least that's my analysis.

    "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

    by Crazy Horse on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 04:24:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I would formulate now renewable power as a freedom issue. Freedom from centralized power distribution and astronomic investment interest. I know, it would hardly work at the moment like this. But if there is recognition that the current economy and technology is less than sustainable, renewable energy gives local opportunities to make living with less totalitarian control of political and financial sectors. (And never mind saving the whole world.)
    by das monde on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 06:55:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well - it's a point rarely made that corporate control is a form of totalitarian control.

    You don't need dour people in grey uniforms to have a totalitarian state. When entire populations are forced to work, encouraged to get into debt, and inspired to consume, it's an odd kind of "freedom" that's being offered.

    But that's exactly why renewables are unpopular. If everyone has a windmill or panels and is offered a feed-in tariff competitive with the subsidies offered to non-renewables, the effects are political as well as economic.

    Distributed generation makes it impossible to Enron-ise the economy.

    The people who benefit from Enron-isation don't see this as a good thing.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 07:01:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ThatBritGuy:
    the effects are political as well as economic.

    and thus social, the biggest kick of them all.

    it should be a no-brainer that energy is being offered in mind-bogglingly copious quantities, but we insist on sucking it out of the darkest, riskiest, most complicated places, in the most cavalier of ways.

    this has become the 'normal' and the daily barrage of propaganda ensures this myth's longevity.

    cui bono? this cabal with its us military arm, has convinced itself (and then us) that there is no alternative.

    they keep it so achievements like Jerome's are the exception rather than the rule.

    Italy's papers headlined yesterday that all the world was hitting the pause button on nuclear, except Italy.

    it's quite poignantly clear to me that the illusion that energy is just energy, no matter its provenance, is the chief culprit in our boundlessly ignorant complaisance to the corporate energy hegemony.

    sure it runs yer espresso machine the same as it comes out the wall, but look out the window! what do you want decorating your skyline as you sip your fragrant brew, grateful to technology and ivory coast coffee beans for the convenience and luxury?

    a bunch of windmills or a smoking monument to hubristic folly like in Sendai?

    behold the power of propaganda to bamboozle millions into eco suicide, and look who's pushing it!

    that koolaide trance, it's really something...

    'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 08:47:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Financial Analysts Downgrade Nuclear Power | Friends of the Earth
    "Bank Of America Merrill Lynch's Steve Fleishman cuts ratings on Entergy Corp. (ETR) and Scana Corp. (SCG) to underperform from neutral:  `While the Japan nuclear event has implications for all U.S. nuclear plants [including] the risk of delay or higher cost as part of approvals for new nuclear plants (SCG, Southern Co. (SO)) as well as relicensing of existing plants (ETR); public concern on nuclear plants located in earthquake-prone areas (PG&E Corp. (PCG), Edison International (EIX)); and overall higher costs for non-regulated nuclear plants (Exelon Corp. (EXC)), which the owners have to absorb. NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), however, could benefit from increased potential that new nuclear goes away.'"  (See  http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110314-710773.html.)


    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 12:57:33 PM EST
    Real Radiation Outweighs Toxic Japanese Debt: William Pesek - Bloomberg

    In high-tech, hypermodern Tokyo the most sought-after items are decidedly primitive: candles, flashlights, surgical masks and duct tape.

    For that, we have more than just Friday's deadly earthquake and tsunami to blame but also the nation's shameful nuclear- safety record. It is boomeranging on all of us 126 million Japan residents. What's freaking us out even more than quakes and tsunamis is the risk of radiation drifting our way.

    Yes, it was a huge quake and Japanese officials are working tirelessly and putting themselves in harm's way to avoid the worst. And yes, Monday-morning quarterbacking is of limited utility with Japan still counting the costs of the tragedy in lives and destruction. Yet Japanese have been put at risk by years of institutionalized neglect.

    Neither has the information flow inspired much trust. Government officials say don't worry, radiation risks are "containable" and at the same time they tell people to evacuate. If we learned anything from the subprime-loan crisis, it's that anytime a public official uses the C-word it's time to run for the hills.



    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 01:03:23 PM EST
    Neither has the information flow inspired much trust. Government officials say don't worry, radiation risks are "containable" and at the same time they tell people to evacuate.

    Uh, no. You want the government to start evacuating when you have a nuclear incident, regardless of whether they believe that they can contain it. They might be wrong, and by the time they realise that, it'll be too late to evacuate.

    - Jake

    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 at 02:31:56 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Chernobyl clean-up expert slams Japan, IAEA | Reuters

    (Reuters) - Greed in the nuclear industry and corporate influence over the U.N. watchdog for atomic energy may doom Japan to a spreading nuclear disaster, one of the men brought in to clean up Chernobyl said on Tuesday.

    Slamming the Japanese response at Fukushima, Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev accused corporations and the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of wilfully ignoring lessons from the world's worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry's expansion.

    "After Chernobyl all the force of the nuclear industry was directed to hide this event, for not creating damage to their reputation. The Chernobyl experience was not studied properly because who has money for studying? Only industry.

    "But industry doesn't like it," he said in an interview in Vienna where the former director of the Soviet Spetsatom clean-up agency now teaches and advises on nuclear safety. Austria's environment ministry has used him as an adviser.



    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 Mar 15th, 2011 at 05:26:36 PM EST
    Japan earthquake | Page 87 | Liveblog live blogging | Reuters.com
    UK Prime Minister David Cameron says nuclear power should be part of Britain's future energy mix.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 08:59:09 AM EST
    The end of David Cameron?
    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 09:03:12 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    well yesterday morning I was in the car, and instead of the normal diet of taxi drivers complaining about assylum seekers and the benefit claimants, it was nuclear plant workers and designers ringing in to say how safe their equipment really is.

    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 09:28:08 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    AJELive (AJELive) on Twitter
    #China suspends all 28 new #nuclear reactors amid industry wobbles and public anxiety. More at #AlJazeera: http://aje.me/eyZEys #tsunami


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 10:52:25 AM EST
    Disaster in Japan: March 16 Live Blog | Al Jazeera Blogs
    Some 28 reactors - or 40 per cent of the world's total under construction - are being built in China. The country's current capacity is 10.8 gigawatts, though analysts expected a target of up to 80GW in the coutnry's new five-year plan due at the end of this month.


    Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
    by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 16th, 2011 at 11:00:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]


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