Nuclear power perspective

By Mike Smith

There is no question that the events in Japan are ongoing and serious. That said, I believe a lot of people are being misled by much of the news coverage.  Take a look at these headlines from the Christian Science Monitor and from Channel News Asia, respectively,

and,

“Three Mile Island” and “Chernobyl” sounds scary, right?

Let me ask a couple of questions?  How many were killed by the Three Mile Island incident?

100?

10,000?

100,000?

Answer here

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282 Responses to Nuclear power perspective

  1. Richard Lawson says:

    Compare those figures with the deaths from renewables. in one incident alone over 170,000 died in China when the Banqiao hydroelectric dam failed. Greenpeace et al never ever mention this of course.

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

  2. Ian UK says:

    Reminds me of the bumber sticker seen in a US election campaign – “More people died at Chappaquiddick than 3 Mile Island”.

  3. Sandy says:

    Worth asking the same of Chernobyl.
    Wiki currently says:
    “Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. Fifty deaths, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers, are directly attributed to the accident. It is estimated that there may ultimately be a total of 4,000 deaths attributable to the accident, due to increased cancer risk”

  4. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    It’s actually not the number of people who were killed in past accidents, it’s all about one word; potential. There’s the potential for thousands of deaths from just one reactor – not just in an initial acient, but years and years later from cancer. It’s very simply too dangerous because of that potential. Not only that but a large section of land closed off for a thousand years in relatively small countries like Japan and England mean even less space for future populations. Then there’s the cost of building, running and dismantling – and used fuel storage costs and problems. It’s just not worth it when we could invest money in ‘hot rock’ geothermal and get clean inexhaustible heat back. Ironically, Japan has the necessary geographical position for such heat, and the technical know-how.

    We should really take Japan’s lesson. No matter how clever you are, no matter how it’s designed, it still has POTENTIAL to fail.

  5. jason says:

    Unless I am much mistaken, that is one question, not a couple.

  6. Les Johnson says:

    This, via EU Referendum, has a very good article on how serious the nuclear situation is.

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

    A quote:

    Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.

  7. Baa Humbug says:

    None died as a result of 3mile island, but Chernobyl is a different story.

    “Perhaps saddest of all is that as many as 200,000 abortions were conducted of wanted pregnancies in order to avoid non-existent radiation damage to the fetus.”

    Chernobyls Real Victims by Dr Roger Bate

    http://www.radscihealth.org/rsh/Docs/UN-Chernobyl/BateReUNDPChernobylStory.pdf

  8. Tony says:

    How many people are killed is irrelevant. Risk is the potential for damage, harm and injury. It is patently evident that the risk of further serious catastrophy with specific regard to the Nuclear power stations is present. The degree of risk is unkown, reflecting our lack of understanding of the current events. Without being able to quantify the risk it seens sensible and logical to assume extreme danger.

    The previous two reactor events mentioned may not have been as serious as they clearly could have been. I think it might be fair to say that Chernobyl was pretty much on a knife edge of disaster and the lack of deaths (still many lost their lives!) is related to the extreme sacrifice and bravery exibited by some of the people who probably abandonded hope of personal survival in order to contain the situation, as well as the appropriately ruthless response by the government to evacuate the area, never to return.

    If we still don’t understand the risks of present technology, then we better be vary careful with thorium. Lessons will be learnt, but this is an example of a problem that nobody considered (or considered possible), which pretty much sums up most disasters.

    Let them prepare for the worst and hope for the best unencumbered.

  9. Perry says:

    Along with reliable sources such as the IAEA and WNN updates, there is an incredible amount of misinformation and hyperbole flying around the internet and media right now about the Fukushima situation. In the BNC post, a lot of technical detail is provided, as well as regular updates. But what about a layman’s summary? How do most people get a grasp on what is happening, why, and what the consequences will be? Read on mes braves!

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

  10. Al Gored says:

    Sorry but you are stuck in reality. How many could have died? How horrific could it have been? That’s what sells newspapers and the anti-nuclear gang – coal, solar, wind, algae, greenpeace – will be whipping this into a frenzy.

    Worst example I have seen was actually more subtle – a photo used for the latest nuclear blast story which actually showed the glow of an oil refinery fire in the background with the tsunami destroyed wasteland in the foreground. Very apocalyptic but very misleading to put it mildly.

    And CNN had Bill Nye the science guy on as their ‘expert.’ Hmmm.

  11. Deekaman says:

    Big Jim’s point is understood as “We should do nothing because there is a potential for someone to get hurt”.

    The “Precautionary Principle” will send us back to the Stone Age. We don’t build nuclear power plants because of it, we don’t drill for new petroleum because of it, we divert water from the most productive farmland on Earth because of it, we don’t build new hydroelectric facilities because of it. You get the picture. We should do nothing because someone or something might get hurt. There is so much wrong with the Precautionary Principle that I can’t even begin.

  12. Michael R says:

    I just had the most absurd comment directed at me in relation to this crisis. Essentially it went:

    Other Person “Has the nuclear reactor blown yet?”

    Me “No thankfully the core remains intact”.

    Other Person “Ahh, I was hoping it was a full meltdown”

    Me “Excuse me?”

    Other Person “Well if it was a big explosion then it might convince everyone to stop using Nuclear because it is too dangerous”.

    Suffice to say this comment just floored me.

  13. Brian Johnson uk says:

    Congratulations all 24 Hour Breaking News stations.

    Hype to the hilt anything that requires the words Nuclear and Explosion. Even when experts say the radiation levels are measurable but not excessive. Why scare people by offering doom laden scenarios that are not actually existing anywhere in Japan at present?
    Let’s have an end to all continuous News services as the presenters think they are “Stars” – Not! and continuos repetition needs to end and maybe historical docu items
    used to ease the mundane presentation of news that we have to endure at present!

    OK I can use the Off switch like anyone else!

    Sarc off.

  14. jonjermey says:

    It’s worth quoting Wikipedia in depth here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_mining#Dangers_to_miners

    “…In the U.S. alone, more than 100,000 coal miners were killed in accidents over the past century,[16] with more than 3,200 dying in 1907 alone….

    …in lesser developed countries and some developing countries, many miners continue to die annually, either through direct accidents in coal mines or through adverse health consequences from working under poor conditions. China, in particular, has the highest number of coal mining related deaths in the world, with official statistic 6,027 deaths in 2004.”

  15. Volt Aire says:

    Claiming 56 deaths for Chernobyl is total and utter BS. The total death toll from the incident is likely in the hundreds of thousands but it is lost in the “static” of the millions of deaths occurring yearly in the fallout area.

    Linking an article claming 56 as the casualty number is the worst mistake I have seen in my years of reading this magnificient blog – Pretty much not even aggressive pro nuclear lobbyists will even try to push that kind of rubbish.

    I really hope AW will see the problem and take this insult away.

  16. zx10 b2 1989 says:

    “potential” oh right that ‘precautionary principle ‘ stuff ! so we should do things based on what we can make up in our own imaginations but not actual facts or reality?
    So as there is a potential of a asteroid/techno lizard destroying all life, we should spend billions on those as well plus there is a risk that the satanic followers are right so we should prepare for Gabriel Byrne to pop up a old nick ??? .
    So far this principle has/will cost billions fighting nasty warming dragons and now because of this incident which is still on going and fluid the greenish are getting their ‘principles ‘ in first before they get shot down by the truth again and banging on that we should dump a very useful source of power for another pipe dream of ‘limitless/free/safe /rabbit friendly energy ‘ strange I have heard that for years and still nowt! where is it? oh yes I forgot it’s only another billion$ away ? just like it has been for years !.

  17. Ian E says:

    Zero lessons for the UK – we do not live in an earthquake zone!! However, California might be sleeping a bit worse.

    I suppose, on reflection, there is a bit of a lesson for the UK – or will be once we see how difficult life is for Japanese individuals and industries now they are deprived of 20% of their electricity generating capacity – of course this is roughly where we will shortly be in the UK due to the Huhnatic’s anti-AGW policies.

  18. TerryS says:

    Re: Sandy

    If you look at that quote it has a small reference number by it (the number 5). If you then go to references section you will see that the source of that is the New York Times.

    Perhaps you should have read a little further into article where you may have found this:

    Among the residents of Belaruss 09, the Russian Federation and Ukraine there had been, up to 2002, about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases are to be expected during the next decades. Notwithstanding problems associated with screening, many of those cancers were most likely caused by radiation exposures shortly after the accident. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The risk of leukaemia in the general population, one of the main concerns owing to its short latency time, does not appear to be elevated. Although those most highly exposed individuals are at an increased risk of radiation-associated effects, the great majority of the population is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident. Many other health problems have been noted in the populations that are not related to radiation exposure.[75]

    That quote is from UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation).
    As for the thyroid cancer, part of the increase in incidence is due to the fact they looked for it. The survival rate for stage 1 thyroid cancer is 100% after 5 years.

  19. Volt Aire says:

    (UNICEF) analysed health statistics in Belarus and showed increases between 1990 and 1994 of:

    disorders of the nervous system 43 %
    cardiovascular diseases 43 %
    gastrointestinal diseases 28 %
    disorders of bone, muscle and connective tissue 62 %
    diabetes 28 %

    None of the fatalities from the above list ever made it to a list of Chernobyl deaths. For every death threre has been an unimaginable amount of suffering caused by the deformations, miscarriages, stillborns and the rest of the long list.

    Go ahead and make a google picture search of chernobyl. Notice how the children look in the pictures. Wonder how many of you still talk down the effects of that incident?

    And BTWm I’m pro nuclear, just anti BS. Claiming Chernobyl was just 56 deaths and nothing more is mindbogglingly stupid.

  20. Patrick Davis says:

    On BBC World Service last night a reporter Said that “…fissile material had leaked from the plants…” Fear and scare, BBC at its best.

  21. polistra says:

    “Shades of Chernobyl and TMI” is classic conflation. Those are actually opposite poles of nuclear technology, but the media have spent 30 years insuring that we think of them together in one horrible blur.

  22. Huub Bakker says:

    Tony @ 12:26am

    Actually, Chernobyl was as bad as it could get. The containment vessel was breached, the moderator rods (carbon) burned and radioactivity from an open reactor was spread far and wide. On the scale of seriousness for radioactive events (0-7) Chernobyl was a 7. Three Mile Island was a 4. The estimate for the Fukushima reactors is a 3.

    Nuclear fission reactors have an enviable safety record unmatched by the coal industry.

  23. bbph says:

    Here in Europe, the whole bunch of green extremists always ask for more trains, electric cars, etc. At the same time, they want to step out of nuclear power generation. They religiously believe, this will all work out with solar cells or “alternative” power generation. These morons do not hesitate here in Germany to politically capitalize on Japan’s quake and Tsunami (elections are coming), asking for Nuke stop, focalizing on themselves and ignoring the Japanese people pain. Well, may be we should stop atom plants here in Germany, then we’ll buy electricity in France, where more than 70% is nuke generated. Great…

  24. Richard Lawson says:

    Re: Volt Aire

    Maybe you would like to direct your concerns on the 50 or so deaths being utter BS to the World Health Organisation – they authored the report back in 2005.

    You seemed to have made the dreadful error of believing press releases from the green lobby. Millions of deaths as a result of Chernobyl is what they thought would happen – but not actually what happened. Subtle difference!

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html

  25. Patrick Davis says:

    “Ian E says:
    March 14, 2011 at 1:18 am”

    True, but that does not mean quakes won’t happen in the UK. There have been many quakes in the UK in the past. Even in Australia, argualbly one of the most geologically stable lands on earth, suffers quakes. Newcastle, NSW, in 1989 for instance.

  26. Charlie Martin says:

    Claiming 56 deaths for Chernobyl is total and utter BS. The total death toll from the incident is likely in the hundreds of thousands but it is lost in the “static” of the millions of deaths occurring yearly in the fallout area.

    Funny, the UN report doesn’t agree with you:

    The international experts have estimated that radiation could cause up to about 4000 eventual deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations, i.e., emergency workers from 1986-1987, evacuees and residents of the most contaminated areas. This number contains both the known radiation-induced cancer and leukaemia deaths and a statistical prediction, based on estimates of the radiation doses received by these populations.

  27. TFN Johnson says:

    Michael R reminded me of the girl who never tried Guinness because she didn’t like it.

    The BBC (surprise) did a good prog on Chernobyl a few years ago. If you exclude the deaths of those heroes who delivered boron by helicopter just above the reactor (they are all dead I think) then the deaths in the surrounding area are even lower. Wildlife is flourishing in the exclusion zone. Apparently the only available graphs of death against dosage are based on the two WW2 bombs, and exclude low dosage. Deaths attributable to low dosage are merely extrapolated down to the 0/0 origin. But the actual facts at Chernobuyl indicate that low dosages may actually reduce deaths: pepping up immunity systems was mentioned as a possibility.

    Why has this post attracted comment from so many people surnamed ‘Johnson’?

  28. Marlow Metcalf says:

    A long time ago I heard that old tech was going to be used to solve a high tech problem. A tank of radiation absorbing liquid would be put some place handy. It would have drain pipes that would be plugged with something that would melt if things got way to hot, gravity would take care of the rest and humans would not be able to stop the shut down. I have not heard about this since that one time years ago.

  29. V says:

    I saw this
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/world/asia/14plume.html?_r=4
    and had to ask:
    What the hell is the military spending its money on nuclear, biological and chemical systems for if they can be exposed to this. Were they all out on deck sniffing it up or something?

  30. Alan the Brit says:

    Les Johnson says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:21 am
    & Perry!

    Have both hightlighted an excellent article. Calm, cool, calculated, unbiased, factual, & informative. Therefore nobody of any consequence will read it as it does hype up disaster, death, distruction, & the enf of the world as we know it scenarios!

    Speaking as one who has worked in the broader nuclear industry, one can sit on a rock on Dartmoor & receive one’s annual doasage where the sun don’t shine in a matter of minutes, or not, depending upon how well things are working at the time in natures marvellous system! Nevertheless the media will spin this for all they’re worth. BBC Saturday morning news had a nuclear expert on to explain what had likely happened, I am surprised they had him on twice as he was so matter of fact, calm, informative, etc, he didn’t seem to want to play to their tune on sensation. Shame, (sarc)!

  31. Keith Battye says:

    Ach!

    The MSM seem to have a serious vendetta against nuclear power. The BBC is going on with “experts” saying if this , then that, could be, might etc. and it is all apocalyptic. Even when a guy comes on live saying that the design and the response have so far been effective and the radiation, such as it is, is at very low levels and there is every possibility that the containment will continue to be effective they are shut down very quickly.

    I also note the usual conspiracists are climbing out of their dens about the “misleading” statements from the Japanese on the ground, and “cover ups” etc. It is so discouraging that the levels of trust in any part of any government can be so low.

    I am not saying it isn’t a problem but I am saying that the apocalypse being predicted seems very far from actuality. I am also saying that from my perspective the Japanese government has been very open and informative in the midst of a massive natural disaster.

  32. Speed says:

    From today’s Wall Street Journal:

    Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), a longtime opponent of nuclear power, has warned of “another Chernobyl” and predicted “the same thing could happen here.”

    Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576198421680697248.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  33. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    Same as with the “Love Canal Great Disaster”. The part of the underlying landfill that was toxic was not penetrated and couldn’t pollute the environment. Yellow journalism at its nastiest. Tell people that they should be sick from something or other, and they quickly sicken from something or another.

  34. Hugo M says:

    While it first sounded reasonable that the cooling system failed after (all?) Diesel-driven generators had been drowned, it is beyond comprehension that the cooling systems still fail, with more than enough time to connect external emergency power supplies.

  35. sleeper says:

    Volt Aire says:

    Claiming 56 deaths for Chernobyl is total and utter BS. The total death toll from the incident is likely in the hundreds of thousands but it is lost in the “static” of the millions of deaths occurring yearly in the fallout area.

    This must be true because, well, Volt Aire says so.

  36. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    Nuke power plants are fine and dandy . . .if they weren’t rather aged in design. And except for the fact that electricity can not be stored in any significant quantity from a financial standpoint, and autos can’t, from an economically feasible standpoint run on nuke power. Plus the fact that when an earthquake of more than about 7.5 magnitude occurs closely and at shallow depth, meltdown happens.

    Petroleum, coal and natutral gas (methane) look better and better, and for the sake of a food supply, more CO2 is greatly needed.

  37. Todd Tilton says:

    “Without being able to quantify the risk it seens sensible and logical to assume extreme danger.”

    This only seems sensible or logical to someone who either believes that there will be no cost and that peoples lives will not be disrupted or who more likely believes that he will not have to pay the cost and that his life will not be disrupted.

    It is also the theory behind warmism. “We can’t prove anything, so we need to take extreme measures”.

  38. Natsman says:

    Well, it’s another doomsday scenario for the doom mongers to get their teeth into, and they’ll not let go very easily. Life is a risk. Usually the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and anything is better than stone-age living, isn’t it?

  39. polistra says:

    News item from China this morning.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-03/12/c_13774519.htm

    They’re going to continue building reactors, while trying to learn lessons from this emergency. One interesting bit of fail-safe technology already in place:

    “But the AP1000 nuclear power reactors, currently under construction in China’s coastal areas and set to be promoted in its vast hinterland, are Generation III reactors and would be exempted from such a problem, as they have a non-powered cooling system. The cooling system consists of a huge tank containing thousands of tonnes of water above the reactors, and will be activated by the force of gravity in times of emergency.”

    Simplify, simplify, simplify.

  40. richard verney says:

    Modern reactor design is by all accepted standards extremely safe. Thorium may be even more safe. Had there been a dam in this area, just think of the death toll that would have resulted had the dam been ruptured in the quake.

    Nonetheless, it is clear that nuclear energy does carry with it risks on a scale which could have severe consequences such as living in the shaddow of a dam. Natural disasters or terrorist activity make nuclear and hydroectric dams vulnerable. That said, risks incidental to natural disaster can be minimised. May be it is not prudent to build nuclear reactors near to well known fault lines or in the shaddow of a volcano, or even along a coast line that could be affected by a tsunami.

    Since we know and are able to identify the areas which are most prone to such natural disasters, it means that we can minimise the threats that such natural disasters impose. For some countries which are situated close to fault lines, it may not be prudent to go along the nuclear route. However, for most countries, this is not a problem. There are large areas of the US which would be completely safe. Likewise, most of Europe is safe from such risks.

    It would be unfortunate if nuclear power (and the obvious benefits that it can bring) is cast aside solely because of a natural disaster which for most countries would never pose a risk. If it is, then the full consequences of the recent natural disaster in Japan will be far higher than the headline figures that will come in whithin the next few weeks and months.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all those caught up in the unfortunate events in Japan.

  41. Volt Aire says:

    http://www.chernobylreport.org/summary-en.pdf

    Official reports leave out 2/3 of the fallout zone.

  42. Beesaman says:

    On average we kill nine people a day on British roads and maim many more. Of course we accept that, for some unknown reason. How many die on US roads everyday day?
    Then think about the real pollution traffic causes and the byproducts, even more when we have to start recycling batteries from so called clean cars (more like transferred the pollution out of my neighbourhood cars).

  43. Blade says:

    Les Johnson [March 14, 2011 at 12:21 am] says:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

    “Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine … The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.

    Clearly this last sentence will return again to haunt us, in the next reboot of the Godzilla series.

  44. Ian E says:

    Patrick Davis says:
    “March 14, 2011 at 1:48 am
    “Ian E says:
    March 14, 2011 at 1:18 am”

    True, but that does not mean quakes won’t happen in the UK. There have been many quakes in the UK in the past. Even in Australia, argualbly one of the most geologically stable lands on earth, suffers quakes. Newcastle, NSW, in 1989 for instance.”

    Of course, quakes occur in the UK – at magnitudes in the region of 4! I remember feeling one in Bedford 20 years ago – it felt like someone had dropped a heavy hammer on the roof, or a sudden gust of wind. These level quakes are many orders of magnitude less powerful than any large Japanese quakes – the earthquake scale is not linear you know!

  45. Lars Silen says:

    It is interesting to notice how the news media focus is on small releases of radioactivity corresponding per capita (close by) to one ordinary jet flight when perhaps 10 000 … 100 000 have died around the plants. The zunami damages to coastal towns/villages look worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings.
    My view is that the nuclear power plants so far have managed very well even if there are many details that should be improved in the future. One clearly stupid, retrospectively, detail is that back up generators were destroyed by the zunami. It is perfectly possible that one or several reactors have to be written off due to the damage but so what, hardware can always be replaced. The greatest risk is probably if the earthquake leads to a situation where well working energy systems are scrapped or inferior new production capacity is built due to irrational fears.

  46. The problem is that the anti-alarmists are every bit as ideologically confident and arrogant as the alarmists. I liked that BNC piece that is floating around but the guy claims – while admitting that he doesn’t have all the facts about these particular reactors – that you’ll only get minor radiation if you’re sitting on the chimney, but clearly more people have already been exposed to minor radiation than that, and the battle is still
    ongoing.

    Yes nuclear has a safer track record and produces more energy than hydro, etc, and this plant had an old design, etc. What concerns me is not that this may not be superdangerous, but that the anti-alarmists are ready to brush aside all claims of danger in their unassailable belied in anti-alarmism. It reminds me of the anti-alarmism after the oil spill. Yeah it wasn’t as bad as the greenies wanted, but it was still much worse and went on longer than anybody could have imagined or predicted, and the amount of oil flow was much higher than the government initially claimed.

    The fact remains that this is the third worst nuclear plant disaster in history. Over a dozen people (?) have already been injured by these “harmless” hydrogen explosions, and we’re placing our trust in these official claims about modest radiation releases. Meanwhile, the crisis continues past the point that the non-alarmists have predicted.

    Even if it’s impossible for a Chernobyl, even if nuclear is still statistically safer after this than other forms of energy, let’s not pretend that this is a walk in the park when we have no idea how long it’s going to continue or what the final casualties will be, and it’s already worse than the “worst case scenario” and the anti-alarmist’s optimism.

  47. rbateman says:

    Yes, it is being played to the hilt.
    Every single news items covering the Nuclear sites in Japan has the keywords:
    Possible meltdown and fear.
    Deadlines are imminent, having only hours until doom strikes.
    But each successive story seems to reset the counter, and injects new fear of possible meltdown.

  48. Alexander K says:

    Man tends to be a worrying, praying animal, who invents ridiculous gods and hobgoblins to smite him if he does something to offend them and is always anxious about stuff that ‘might’ happen.
    My dad, a cheerful and thinking aetheist, who fought through two world wars as an enlisted man, used to tell me
    “Don’t take life too seriously, son, as you are not going to get out of it alive! Deal with the things you CAN deal with, and leave the rest alone, as worry and prayer can be fatal.”

  49. rbateman says:

    Hugo M says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Unless the diesel generators were smashed, they should have been able to be brought back by servicing (oil, filters, injectors & pumps) and supplied with fuel via skycrane.
    Failing that, the nearest port has tugboats which can pump lots of seawater.
    Hey, how’d they get that seawater pumping thing going?

  50. Paul R says:

    I’m no expert or anything but I can’t imagine any worse circumstances for those reactors to be in than what they are now, they have taken a beating.
    I’m not a fan of nukes, we’re talking about making steam to spin a turbine to spin some magnets to frighten some electrons, I can do without the really over the top complicated bit that’s supposedly just to make heat.
    The cold war’s over and there’s coal in them there hills, or thorium even.

  51. Peter Taylor says:

    Deekaman – you take an uneducated swipe at the Precautionary Principle – I spent ten years at UN conventions making sure it became law – and am glad of it. It wa sbrought in primarily with respect to preventing the discharge of toxic wastes to the ocean. Prior to this change in the law, the burden of proof fell to environmental groups and even national (foreign) governments to prove a discharge caused harm – virtually impossible to do. The shift in the law (and the burden of proof) heralded the birth and expansion of Clean Production Strategies (don’t use toxic materials if you can avoid them- and then you don’t need to discharge toxic waste). The PP always had a clause which stated – ‘within reason’ related to economic criteria. For example, many would not consider it reasonable to curtail CO2 (not a ‘toxin’) at enormous cost in order to precautionarily prevent possible future damge – and many would! I am on the side of the former only because I have studied the science and do not think the future damage is properly assessed (i.e. the science does not support alarm).

    The Precuationary Principle is not well applied to large aras of technology dealing with essentially non-toxic material (like hydro-dams) where normal common sense should prevail. Lead in petrol was another issue – better to take it out, than risk damage to the brains of young children playing in the street. X-raying pregnant women – better to take note of the studies showing excess leaukaemia in children born to mothers who had been X-rayed, than rely on models of threshold effects for low doses – though it took 15 years to make the decision!

    As for the Japanese reactor – the death toll is not the main criteria, as with Chernobyl or TMI, it is how close you come to sterilising millions of acres of productive agricultural land, evacuating cities for a hundred years and losing livelihoods for several hundred thousand of even millions of people. The US came close. Chernobyl vented largely toward Belarus’s empty quarter of swampland. The UK and France have both suffered narrow escapes due to loss of coolant incidents.

    And consider this – an 1859 scale EMP from a cornonal mass ejection (super flare) that has a frequency of 200-500 years, would potentially wipe out the electric grid in the northen USA and Europe and leave all nuclear stations (and high level waste storage systems) dependent upon diesel generators for their cooling systems. Diesel back-up does not have a good record. How long would diesel supplies last? Did anyone consider this perfectly natural and common event? No, because the design targets for loss of coolant are not 1/500, but 1/10,000 for each of a dual system. This is a good example of the limited intelligence of the engineering and science community – and by that I mean, not lack of skill, but talking to each other across disciplines. The US National Academy of Sciences cottoned-on somewhat later (in a 2008 report on the Carrington Event) and in the UK a report hit the Prime Minster’s desk two weeks ago.

  52. TerryS says:

    Re: Volt Aire

    The Chernobyl report you link to was authored by Dr Ian Fairle and David Summer, both acting as consultants for greenpeace.

  53. Ken Harvey says:

    I am a great believer in the Precautionary Principle. Accordingly I think that it would be very sensible for all of those people presently living on the Pacific Rim to move somewhere much geologically safer. I am not absolutely sure where they could all go, and certainly not to my backyard, but somewhere safer than where they are now. To get the ball rolling I could take one, always assuming that I could talk my good lady into the idea. Someone English speaking from California would be nice, preferably not from L.A. or San Francisco, but one of those nicer coastal communities. Let precaution be our watchword and decadence our aim.

  54. PhilC says:

    @Volt Aire

    “COMMISSIONED BY_ Rebecca Harms, MEP, Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
    WITH THE SUPPORT OF_ The Altner Combecher Foundation”

    Independent unbiased research?

    “AUTHORS_ Ian Fairlie, PhD, UK. David Sumner, DPhil, UK
    AFTERWORD_ Prof. Angelina Nyagu, Ukraine”

    PhDs in what subjects?

  55. AndyW35 says:

    I think the main problem with nuclear is the widespread possible detriment a rare event could cause. If a dam split in France it doesn’t really have any chance of affecting me in the UK, could I say the same about their nuclear powerstations?

    I remember UK radioactivity went up afer Chernobyl, who knows have many people died in general, it is very hard to measure.

    Andy

  56. George Turner says:

    Volt Aire, Chernobyl didn’t significantly increase cancers, and as far as I know the only thyroid cancer death that occured was because the girl was brought in for treatment years too late. Even among people who refused evacuation from the region, none are dying from radiation, they’re dying from old age.

    It must be upsetting to you, but even in the most affected regions Chernobyl hasn’t yet managed to kill as hundredth as many people as vodka.

  57. Leg says:

    Volt Aire

    Would it help if the original poster had stated, “… 56 countable deaths.”? This is factual. There are a lot of excellent studies on the effects from Chernobyl and except for the possibility of a thyroid cancer increase, which is very treatable, it does appear that overall there has been no increase in cancers. Your point about stress related deaths may have validity. At the time of the accident, the Chernobyl area had a very poor socio-economic status. Health care was poor and statistics on the normal incident of cancer were pretty non-existent. This has had a huge impact on trying to determine the effects of the accident. However, the ruthless way people were removed from the area and dumped elsewhere with little education about the accident and no financial/societal support would more than likely put huge stress on the people. It is well known that the intervenors (those who were forced to go clean the area) went back home and were shunned by their fellow citizens because the USSR did nothing to make them heroes or to educate the public. Reminds me of how I was treated when I came home from Viet Nam. The problem of determining whether or not these stresses have led to a rise in stress related illnesses is hugely complicated by the rampant alcoholism amongst the Russian people and the fact that their socio-economic conditions are not the best.

    Ergo, your original statement that “56 deaths is pure BS” is a little over the top, because that is the number of deaths from direct radiation exposure. You may ( or may not, as we really do not know) be correct with regards to stress related illnesses,
    but want to bet these would be a lot less if the people were given a decent treatment?

  58. John Marshall says:

    The precautionary principle is neither a principle or precautionary. Taken literally it would never be applied, as a precaution.
    We need to live in reality not thinking what could or might happen. This is OK for planning something, to try as best as possible to reduce risk, but you can’t live your life like that. If you did you would stay in bed, which is where most people die by the way.

  59. bob says:

    The Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster combined into sort of a perfect storm. In multiple reactors, primary and backup cooling systems were either destroyed or failed, and their last ditch cooling systems ran out of power.

    There are lessons to be learned, but those lessons should show us how to build safer nukes.

  60. Leg says:

    I had to laugh when the press made it a reportable article about one of our (US) aircraft carriers going through a plume of radioactive material and that the sailors might have gotten a month’s worth (compared to normal background radiation dose) of radiation dose. Uh, anyone see the irony – it’s a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. I was a Navy corpsman. I would bet almost every sailor on the ship has had a full chest X-ray set (AP, Lat, posterior) at sometime, which would just about equal a month’s worth of background radiation dose. Their risk from this plume is infinitesimally small compared to being on the flight deck during operations.

    The media is sooooo radiophobic – and ignorant.

  61. Sandy says:

    “As for the Japanese reactor – the death toll is not the main criteria, as with Chernobyl or TMI, it is how close you come to sterilising millions of acres of productive agricultural land, evacuating cities for a hundred years and losing livelihoods for several hundred thousand of even millions of people. The US came close. Chernobyl vented largely toward Belarus’s empty quarter of swampland. The UK and France have both suffered narrow escapes due to loss of coolant incidents.”

    This is comic book stuff, do you really believe it?

  62. Duncan says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:16 am

    It’s actually not the number of people who were killed in past accidents, it’s all about one word; potential.

    The reactor problems in Japan have the potential to kill zero people outside the reactors. None. Nada. The Japanese government is being ridiculous evacuating people on this pretext in the middle of that post-tsunami chaos.

    The “crisis” never had anything to do with danger to people in the surrounding area. At issue was whether these reactors are temporarily disabled, or damaged so badly they will never produce CO2-free electrical power again.

    We SHOULD take Japan’s lesson: no matter how bad the natural disaster, nuclear power remains safe. Safer than any other form of energy, in fact.

    Can you tell us there are no health risks from the refinery fires caused by the earthquake?
    If a dam failed due to the earthquake, would the death toll be zero?
    Did none of the solar photovoltaic fab plants release any toxic chemicals into their neighbors’ yards?

  63. TerryS says:

    Re Peter Taylor

    As for the Japanese reactor – the death toll is not the main criteria, as with Chernobyl or TMI, it is how close you come to sterilising millions of acres of productive agricultural land, evacuating cities for a hundred years and losing livelihoods for several hundred thousand of even millions of people.

    And so far, despite what the media are saying, it hasn’t even come close.

    Diesel back-up does not have a good record.

    Really? Do you have any idea on how many computer centres have seamlessly switched to diesel backup without any issues? I have been in 3 different centres that have had to switch to backup power and have done so without an interruption of power to a single server. If I have experienced that three times then how many other centres at how many times have had to do it without any issues? Unlike computer centres nuclear power stations do not need a seamless transition from grid to standby power.

    How long would diesel supplies last?

    Irrelevant. The question should be be how long do they need to last. The answer is just a few days. Power is only needed to circulate the coolant until the secondary fission materials have decayed and the core has cooled and that should have happened after a few days.

    Did anyone consider this perfectly natural and common event?

    They would not have asked the question “What happens if a CME knocks out all the power grids?” because they would not care what caused the grids to fail. Instead they would have asked the question (or something similar) “What happens if we are running at 100% capacity and we lose all power to and from the grid for more than 7 days?” and have prepared procedures for dealing with it.

  64. ob says:

    the bs 56 up there should be at least replaced by the officially estimated 4000. That still looks whitewashed but is not that much of an insult.

  65. Hugh says:

    I like the idea of the mini nuclear power plants that Hyperion are building. The company claims they are meltdown proof, easily transportable by truck, quick to build, could meet the needs of up to 20, 000 domestic homes each (well, maybe not Al Gore’s homes, I’m surmising), can be constructed underground away from terrorists etc, etc, and after five years would result in re-usable waste about the volume of a softball.

    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

  66. Scott Wendt says:

    The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaka were rebuilt after being destroyed by A-bombs. Google them and you’ll see beautiful and healthy cities. No sterilized land. It’s a good thing they didn’t follow the Precautionary Principle.

  67. 1DandyTroll says:

    Chernobyl was running full steam ahead when the accident occurred. The Japanese reactors are off-line and cooling. And essentially that’s a big difference.

    However, it takes a little bit of time to cool a reactor down, apparently it has something to do with it being very hot. But maybe they’d ought to focus on engineering an rapid cool down process just so the hippie hysterics can have piece of mind. O_o

  68. TerryS says:

    Re: Peter Taylor

    One other thing about CME’s is that we have advance warning about them. Satellites are moved/shut down to protect them and energy companies prepare the power grids for them.

    I dont have the instruction manual for a nuclear power plant at hand but I’m confident that if they knew there was a large CME on the way that might severely disrupt their operations and the grid then they just might prepare for it by, you know, testing the standby generators work and making sure there is enough fuel for them. Mind you its only guess.

  69. wsbriggs says:

    I continue to be amused by the people pitching low cost, safe geothermal energy. One look at the results of the attempt by Basel, Switzerland to tap into their “cheap energy,” despite warnings of geologic action. The project leader was sued by Basel following a minor earthquake, subsequently exonerated of any wrongdoing, as the report prior to starting the project covered the seismic risks involved.

    It just goes to show there is no free lunch – TANSTAFL.

    Suppose that Japan had had offshore wind turbine farms and they had suffered through the 8.9. What would be left of them?

    Certainly anything wave based would have had a problem as well.

    Thorium anyone? That’s a better bet than boiling water.

    Low Energy Nuclear is starting to really look like it’s worth investigating, a lot less likely to go wrong, if the worst case does happen.

  70. stephan says:

    You don’t build a nuclear power station FACING a major fault beside the sea in a major constant earthquake area. DUH. I’m sure the west coast of Japan would be adequate? I cannot believe the stupidity of some people/organizations which do not think AHEAD.

  71. David says:

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf / Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 December 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents
    http://www.energyliteracy.com/?p=310 (see pie chart, 8% nuclear, .3% wind)

    44 fatal accidents in wind energy, verses 5 in nuclear in the last ten years . In those ten years nuclear provided at least thirty times the energy of wind. 44 x 30 equals 1,320 deaths verses five. In the last decade nuclear has been 265 times safer then wind energy on a energy produced verses fatal accidents basis.

    Dave Springer does not like this and points out that this is accidents in the Wind Industry. However, almost 70% of the fatal accidents are on site. The report also says this…”Data in the detailed table is by no means fully comprehensive – CWIF believe that it may only be the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of numbers of accidents and their frequency. However, the data gives an excellent cross-section of the types of accidents which can and do occur, and their consequences.” Additionally environmental costs are not considered… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html
    Multiply that by at least 30 times to equal Nuclear energy production. Deaths in China are not part of the study either.

    Large scale energy is dangerous. Nuclear has a very good track record, and current technology can make it much safer then what we are seeing in Japan today, as a result of 1960s technology.

  72. Arijigoku says:

    I like your site Anthony but hosting this article at the present time is inappropriate. The article states that only 56 people died as a consequence of the Chernobyl accident. This may be the official number but do you really take that seriously?

    It’s a bit like when AGW alarmists say how much CO2 is produced by cows. They think it illustrates how dangerous this activity is but we (as skeptics) see how the point illustrates the irrelevance of man-made CO2. Spiders thrash the output of cars and cows combined.

    When you post articles about how radioactive bananas are it doesn’t illustrate how safe nuclear power is, but shows how poorly “absorbed dose” measures the true danger of radiation. How would you rather receive your dose: in bananas or plutonium?

    I think you should step back and not post this stuff at the present time. As a fan of yours I am disappointed. It feels like the NRA hosting a rally at the site of a recent gun massacre. If you must have this debate now, how about inviting an article from someone at the other end of the opinion spectrum to yourself. I suggest Professor Chris Busby.

  73. Scott B says:

    Unless we’re talking about a reactor with no containment, bringing up Chernobyl is pure hysteria. Regardless of how many people died because of it. Worst case, this is a Three Mile Island scenario, and that wasn’t all that bad.

    Obvious lessons need to be taken from the issues in Japan. I would think the key one would be to make sure your cooling backup power can’t be affected by a tsunami. More broadly, make sure the backup power can’t be affected by the same natural disaster that can take out main power.

    As long as no reactors are built or managed like Chernobyl, the risk for events like this (which will become less risks as more lessons are learned) are well worth having power that you control the supply of.

  74. Lonnie E. Schubert says:

    As always, lots of good comments, and lots of crap. Three Mile Island and these Japanese reactors are worst case scenarios. Accidents with these designs cannot get worse. People will not die as a result of these. Minor radiation exposure. That is the result of such extreme catastrophes with “modern” PWR and BWR designs. The economic cost is the problem. We are killing people in blacked-out hospitals. We are killing people because EMSA units cannot afford enough ambulances and fuel. We are killing people because food and transportation costs too much to get the food to them so they can simply eat.
    10,000 deaths or more by this one earthquake. As many as 250,000 deaths in the past due to single earthquakes. Something we cannot possibly hope to control. Supposedly a 10.1 is possible. Supposedly that would kill people and cause devastation across continents. That rock is out there. If it is big enough, it will kill us all.
    Keep proportion.
    Nuclear will win out. We will do it rather than die.
    The coal will last for many generations, as will the oil and NG. Solar may prove out, wind will not. Even if solar does become economical, it cannot meet the demand, which runs 24 hours per day, not just 12 hours of daylight. Nuclear will be the last power solution standing.
    Chernobyl was different. It was designed to be as bad as it was. And yes, more than 56 deaths are attributable, but study and evaluate that number. It is reasonable. It gets hard to sort out the other factors very quickly. Poverty is the problem near Chernobyl, and alcoholism. The radiation was not as big a problem as the lead poisoning. Yes, the soviets dumped lead on the fire trying to put it out. Those exposed to the radiation and fallout were breathing in lead too. They dumped on rock to ensure the dust and friable fraction would become radioactive and increase the fallout and radioactive contamination. (Of course that was a mistake. They did not do it to harm, but they should have known.)
    Poverty. That is the biggest killer. More power means less poverty and less human pain and suffering. Less nuclear power means more poverty and more human pain and suffering.
    It is that simple.
    Further regarding Chernobyl, all of those style reactors have been taken off line. The West never made any in the first place. They were a bad design with far to few passive defenses designed in. The soviets were smart, and they operated those deathtraps for many safe hours of beneficial power production. Still, the accident was inevitable, and the results were as expected. Given that all are off line now, shows they are not too proud to admit the mistake. Which is better than others…

  75. Nick Stokes says:

    Mike, the press is saying that this could be like TMI or Chernobyl. You’re saying that’s misleading, but it’s not. What you are saying is that if that happens, it isn’t so bad.

    The problem with this spin is that people have had 30 years to digest it, and they haven’t accepted it.

    The trouble is that they see pictures like this and wonder if they really want one of those in the neighborhood.

    But you might be able to find that a scientist somewhere has deleted an email, so it will be OK.

  76. Pull My Finger says:

    TMI was a disaster averted. Chernobyl was a total disaster. I used to live near TMI and had family that lived within a few miles, and despite a few lawsuits, there was really no negative effects from TMI.

    I think the fact that Nuclear has proven so safe, TMI and Chernobyl were both human caused disasters. TMI workers ignored warning signs, Chernobyl workers actively worked towards blowing plant up. The fact that the Japanese plants are still relatively safe despite a biblical magnitude earthquake speaks pretty highly of the quality of construction. Let’s hope they avoid the meltdown, it’s been a bad enough week over there. But of course, hyperbole is the rule of the day when it comes to nukes.

  77. Hugo M says:

    rbateman said on March 14, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Unless the diesel generators were smashed, they should have been able to be brought back by servicing (oil, filters, injectors & pumps) and supplied with fuel via skycrane. Failing that, the nearest port has tugboats which can pump lots of seawater. Hey, how’d they get that seawater pumping thing going?

    Only some U-Boat engines (equipped with pressure overload valves) are said to survive a bucket full of water in a cylinder when in operation. So these generators certainly have been smashed beyound repair. And tugboat pumps aren’t much an alternative solution, as one needs high pressure injection pumps to feed water into a still pressurized reactor vessel. Hence, my question still is what actually happened to these pumps (or the system they are part of) that the Japanese engeneers are seemingly unable to fill up the reactor vessel with enough water, be it seawater or whatever.

  78. harrywr2 says:

    RE: ‘Not only that but a large section of land closed off for a thousand years’

    Let’s review – Hiroshima is a thriving city of 1.6 million.

    People are afraid of nuclear power for the same reason they are afraid of flying.

    I ride a motorcycle and feel no sense of anxiety when I get on it, but there is just a pang of ‘what if something goes wrong’ when I get on an airplane.

    Riding a motorcycle is way more dangerous then flying a commercial aircraft.

    Motorcycle accidents might get reported in a local newspaper, but they are so common that most newspapers don’t consider them ‘news’. The same goes for automobile accidents.

    Airplane accidents are uncommon, so they always make front page news.

    Fear is an emotion. We all experience it for one reason or another. When the fear doesn’t match the facts we tend to exaggerate the facts. That’s just human nature.

  79. roger samson says:

    Good grief , this whole thing isnt over and the cries of alarmists are already sounding on wattsupwiththat…..what’s up with that???? The french government is telling there citizens to get out and they are the global nuclear experts.

  80. TrueNorthist says:

    There are still a few good journalists out there. At my site I have link up to a WSJ article that should be mandatory reading for the public. The media has been truly disgraceful throughout this ordeal in Japan.

  81. Speed says:

    Polistra said,
    The cooling system consists of a huge tank containing thousands of tonnes of water above the reactors, and will be activated by the force of gravity in times of emergency.

    Many industrial buildings in the US have a water tower on site. These do not supply the fountains, kitchens and flush toilets — they supply water to the overhead sprinkler system used to fight fires. A passive system that works as long as the tank is full.

    This is commonly required in order to get fire insurance and the insurance provider periodically inspects the system to make sure it is full and in working order.

    What was once old is now new.

  82. asshur says:

    @Volt Aire (1:28 am)
    From my old knowledge in epidemiology.
    1) Don’t confuse correlation and causation. Never analyze only one factor
    2) Never express epidemiological risk in percentages (of what, from which baseline?). They are utter nonsense unless this is a poblational study (hardly credible)
    3) In my times, a rule of thumb was: don’t worry about anything with risk factor below 2 (or better 3) -Risk factor is the ratio of prevalence between the study and the base sample-. A naive measure would be 100-150 % more -proportional- cases in the target sample as a threshold …

    Without even opening your supporting doc. It’s utter BS

  83. Arijigoku says:

    yes I meant “equivalent dose” not “absorbed dose” but I think you get what I’m driving at.

  84. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From rbateman on March 14, 2011 at 3:05 am:

    Unless the diesel generators were smashed, they should have been able to be brought back by servicing (oil, filters, injectors & pumps) and supplied with fuel via skycrane.

    And thus I know you never read my post to you at the earlier article where I told you they could have been trashed by hydrolock. Or you have info that says hydrolock did not occur, which seems unlikely given the drenching that must have occurred to warrant the servicing you’ve recommended. If you have such info, please share.

  85. Jack Simmons says:

    Deekaman says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Big Jim’s point is understood as “We should do nothing because there is a potential for someone to get hurt”.

    The “Precautionary Principle” will send us back to the Stone Age. We don’t build nuclear power plants because of it, we don’t drill for new petroleum because of it, we divert water from the most productive farmland on Earth because of it, we don’t build new hydroelectric facilities because of it. You get the picture. We should do nothing because someone or something might get hurt. There is so much wrong with the Precautionary Principle that I can’t even begin.

    Nobody lives by the Precautionary Principle. If you did, you would die.

    For example, you wouldn’t eat because there is a slight chance you could choke to death on your food. If you really lived by the Precautionary Principle, no chances could be taken, no matter how small.

    No getting out of bed (you might fall, break a limb, contract an infection at the hospital).

    No driving. After all, over a million die every year on the roads.

    No walking. Dog attack, falls, out of control vehicles.

    Every move you make entails risk. But everyone tolerates risk in their day to day lives, otherwise they would have to quit living.

  86. Alex the skeptic says:

    People are not impressed by the numbers but by the intensity of the explosion, the bang. If one considers the number of casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (hundreds of thousands) due to the detonation of two nuclear warheads, and compare that to how many died of the maschete and hand gun ( one million Tutsis and Hutus) in Rwanda alone, not to mention the continuous and endless African tragedy, one will realise the hypocricy of it all. We all know about Hiroshima even after 60 years, but who remembers Rwanda after only 16 years?

  87. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:

    AndyW35, that was my point back at the start of the comments. It is the ‘potential’ that nuclear power holds for disaster. Unfortunately, at least two commentators took exception to my comment and somehow confused the Precautionary Principle with it – which I never even mentioned! Still, as someone used to arguing points on forums, I well used to someone reading something in my arguments that I never wrote!

  88. martin brumby says:

    Risk isn’t something we humans always deal with intelligently.

    Other commenters have ponted to the enormous (and continuing) death toll in mining.An informed estimate suggests over 20,000 peryear in China when small private mines are included.

    I don’t think this is a sensible argument against coal but it is a sensible argument against closing comparatively safe mines in the West and exporting jobs (and environmental problems) to China.

    In the UK the only believable energy strategy that is now available is more gas in the short term followed by a big nuclear programme. By all means let’s make nuclear as safe as we can but don’t pretend that anything will be risk free. How many people will die because of ridiculously expensive and unreliable wind power?

    How many of today’s alarmists will die through nervously puffing at their cigarettes whilst worrying about nuclear?

  89. Stanwilli says:

    If the choice is between a cloud of CO2 or a cloud of radioactive cesium, I think I’d choose the CO2. At least it would be warm (if you believe that man-made CO2 causes a warming problem) and my plants would thrive! No one in Japan talked about the potential problems of generating nuclear power adjacent to an active subduction zone. They were too busy raving about their “green” plan and promoting the Kyoto Accord.

    Even if we accept that greenhouses gases actually do cause global warming or climate disruption or whatever the name is today, the people of the earth still need to make sane choices about how and where to generate power. The world is still awash in natural gas and oil. Those still seem like better alternatives to me.

    The Japanese archipelago is called a “volcanic island arc.” The events that happened over the last few days are predictable and certain. A large mega-thrust earthquake is certain to happen again since only a small portion of the Pacific tectonic plate ruptured. If you live in the Pacific Northwest: take note: a mega-thrust earthquake and a tsunami will happen there too.

  90. Volt Aire says:

    Thanks for the few serious replys. Just like there is a giant whitewash going for cAGW, there are similar interests in keeping problems of nuclear disasters out of peoples minds. I’m pro nuclear and a firm believer in natural climate change but the fallout from Chernobyl was and still is a giant disaster. Sure there are more ppl killed every day in trafic but that is no reason to disgrace all the people who suffered, and still suffer, from that catastrope. As there is no way to distinguish “natural” cancers from fallout cancers due to the randomness of victims there will never be a true number on the casualty.

    Looking at the death toll the figure is most likely somewhere in 10.000-100.000 range instead of 56(!) or millions. Costwise the Chernobyl cartastrophe is in excess of 150billion dollars. In human suffering the amount is naturally impossible to calculate but most of the people affected are not dead, for each dead there are tens who survived with varying degrees of disablilities. As a father I have a really hard time listening to someone justify this http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-13316-4.html.

    So better than downplay a known disaster, why not take the opportunity and make sure lessons are learned to avoid such incidents in the future?

  91. oeman50 says:

    According to the reports, they have fed seawater to at least two of the reactors pumped in from the fire water system, which are powered by stand alone diesels. If this is true, and seawater is actually going into the reactor, the cores and possibly even the reactor vessels many never be able to be restarted. The chlorides in the seawater are very corrosive to the fuel rod cladding and the stainless steels in the reactor coolant system. That is very serious.

    And one more thing, many reports say the control rods “dropped into the core”. In boiling water reactors like the ones in trouble here, the rods drive up from the bottom of the vessel.

  92. bob says:

    Peter Taylor says: March 14, 2011 at 3:20 am
    “I spent ten years at UN conventions making sure it became law – and am glad of it.”

    Interesting stuff, Peter. I have never thought much about the precautionary principle because I never investigated it. It turns out that Wikipedia (although not a great source) has a definition.

    First of all, to invoke the precautionary principle, there need be no quantifiable risk. Anecdotal evidence is sufficient to trigger its use. All you need is a good idea, or expert opinion, or the ability to speculate.

    The precautionary principle does not seem to be very principled. It seems more to be a license to roll the dice without the necessity of betting your own money.

    It looks like the precautionary principle is that is not a principle at all.

  93. John Tofflemire says:

    The Japanese nuclear agency is handling the situation well, at least from a publicity standpoint. They are using a scientist-engineering spokesman on television here who is coming off as knowledgeable and careful. He has been spending a great deal of time the last day or so in front of the cameras carefully explaining what is going on in these reactors. Scientists around the world have been able to take this information and explain how things here are reasonably under control, all things considered.

    Our worry here in Tokyo is that we are losing a significant part of our electrical generation capacity. We may be facing brownouts and disruptions to rail transport for months to come. For those who hallucinate about having electrical based rail transit in the US, note here that electrical production disruptions will cripple the very public transit they profess to love. The green wet dream that US cities will be powered by electrical based rail transit while at the same time the electricity powering that transport will be produced by “alternative” energy sources is sheer nonsense.

  94. Wondering Aloud says:

    It is now 20 years since Chernobyl. Has anyone seen a credable study showing increased cancer deaths as a result? I have seen a couple showing decreased deaths though increases in thyroid cancer.

    The link given earlier is a good one.
    http://mail/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=https://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/why-i-am-not-worried-about-japans-nuclear-reactors/

    Killing nuclear power is where the pseudo science nuts cut their teeth.

    If the generators were anything but nukes there would already be casualties, by the thousands if it was a dam.

  95. tommoriarty says:

    Here is dose of reality from MIT’s Dr. Joesf Oehmen.

    Here oar some highlights from Oehmen,s article…

    The plant is safe now and will stay safe.
    Japan is looking at an INES Level 4 Accident: Nuclear accident with local consequences. That is bad for the company that owns the plant, but not for anyone else.
    Some radiation was released when the pressure vessel was vented. All radioactive isotopes from the activated steam have gone (decayed). A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.
    There was some limited damage to the first containment. That means that some amounts of radioactive Cesium and Iodine will also be released into the cooling water, but no Uranium or other nasty stuff (the Uranium oxide does not “dissolve” in the water). There are facilities for treating the cooling water inside the third containment. The radioactive Cesium and Iodine will be removed there and eventually stored as radioactive waste in terminal storage.
    The seawater used as cooling water will be activated to some degree. Because the control rods are fully inserted, the Uranium chain reaction is not happening. That means the “main” nuclear reaction is not happening, thus not contributing to the activation. The intermediate radioactive materials (Cesium and Iodine) are also almost gone at this stage, because the Uranium decay was stopped a long time ago. This further reduces the activation. The bottom line is that there will be some low level of activation of the seawater, which will also be removed by the treatment facilities.
    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)
    I believe the most significant problem will be a prolonged power shortage. About half of Japan’s nuclear reactors will probably have to be inspected, reducing the nation’s power generating capacity by 15%. This will probably be covered by running gas power plants that are usually only used for peak loads to cover some of the base load as well. That will increase your electricity bill, as well as lead to potential power shortages during peak demand, in Japan.

  96. Stephen Richards says:

    Volt Aire says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:31 am
    http://www.chernobylreport.org/summary-en.pdf

    Official reports leave out 2/3 of the fallout zone.

    Depends on what you mean by fallout zone. There was fallout in North Wales UK. Is that part of your fallout zone? You need to read more. Chernobyl was a massive surprise in terms of low dosage radiation damage. As one commenter has already mentioned, low dosage effects were based on extrapolation (ring a bell elsewhere) following the 2 atomic bombs. Chernobyl changed all that. Real scientists examined the people quite widely at the beginning and have monitored them ever since. The results were amazing. Radiation is much less dangerous than the goops at FoE and Greenpeace.

  97. Stephen Richards says:

    martin brumby says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:47 am

    There is no energy strategy in the UK is there?

  98. Jordan says:

    I’m with Volt Aire. Take this post down. It is bad for WUWT.

    In my country, we give respite visits to groups of children from the affected region. We don’t need a crude and oversimplistic assessment of immediate deaths, or academic report to see the harm.

    This post lacks taste and perspective.

    Please take it down. Thanks.

  99. banjo says:

    Chernobyl facts.From `What the green movement got wrong`.

    The answer is thorium….what was the question?

  100. Wondering Aloud says:

    I stand corrected their was a huge increase in abortions due to Chernobyl, totally unnecessary but the scare tactics of the anti science crowd were very effective. If you leave out unnecessary abortions numbers like hundreds of thousands? tens of thousands? even thousands are unsupported Claims based on the availabel mortality data in the Ukraine don’t show an uptic in cancer deaths. Lousy economic conditions in the 90s had such a hugely greater effect I doubt we could detect any net signal from Chernobyl, the cancer numbers suggest there is none.

  101. Curiousgeorge says:

    The KneeJerk boogie has begun. Lieberman and others are calling for a moratorium on US nuke plant construction “until such time” as we yadda, yadda, yadda.

  102. Terry W says:

    I don’t believe only 56 died because of the Chernobyl incident. The radiation has mutiliated much much more than that both immediately and long term. I think they are only counting the immediate deaths.

    That being said, I don’t see anything inherently wrong or dangerous about nuclear energy except this has shown some locations need to be re-evaluated. Especially in California.

    But there is no need to fear future plants being built. Even if they get approved the government regulations will prevent any real progress in this area.

  103. AndyW35 says:

    David said
    March 14, 2011 at 4:19 am
    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf / Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 December 2010

    That’s taken from a source that is against wind turbines so I am not sure how much credence you should give it. If the figure is accurate then fine. However the people behind that site are not against wind farms because of the danger but because of the visual impact of them in the lovely countryside up there.

    In regards to danger they seem more concerned about the radioactive particles turning up on the beaches.

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

    Andy

  104. John K. Sutherland says:

    Volt Aire, Try reading this article. It’s simple, and deals with relative risks from significant sources of energy.

    http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=498

    Enjoy.

  105. Beesaman says:

    It’s not a question of downplaying a disater it is more one of being fed up with end of the world scenarios being fed to us everyday, yet here we still are. Get a grip…

  106. RW says:

    There will be a lot of lessons learned from this, particularly on resilience of coolant systems and their backups. Hopefully this is also a wakeup call to China and India where construction standards are pretty lax.

    So far I have seen no-one point out that the main reactor vessels survived a 9.0 quake and successfully went into shutdown mode. Nor have I seen anyone comment that major scale windpower is not viable in Japan due to vulnerability to typhoons and tsunamis. So much for the MSM commentariat.

  107. Pull My Finger says:

    The diesel generators failed becuase they were swamped by the tsunami, the were built, stupidly, on low land. The operators fully expected the sea walls to hold. Also, I’ve read the secondary containment on these reactors is much weaker than at TMI, but better than Chernobyl (which isn’t saying much). So there were some serious design flaws.

    Also, please remember that Chernobyl was 100% human failure. It was a half-assed unit built by the Soviet Union (nuff said right there) AND the workers were actively trying to cause an emergency test situation… at that they they did a nice job.

  108. Todd Tilton says:

    Volt Aire

    If you don’t understand why the Chernobyl reactor cannot be compared to any other reactor anywhere in the world today and why the Chernobyl accident cannot be compared to an accident involving any other reactor, you should find that out before making more uninformed comments.

  109. wws says:

    goodbye, safe nuclear power development.

    Hello, even MORE oil and gas dependence.

    no other choice.

  110. Coach Springer says:

    Ignorance and projection are the two largest sources of energy in the world. They will transport you to places rocket fuel never can.

  111. Mark Bowlin says:

    The following is an excerpt from a graduate paper at the Naval Postgraduate School that I wrote in 1997 on Chernobyl and Ukrainian foreign policy. It discusses the various casualty estimates as understood a decade after the accident. Unfortunately, the citations didn’t transfer over, but if anyone is really interested, I can make them available.

    Short-term Casualties:
    There is no agreement on the extent of the damage to people’s health from Chernobyl-related causes. Too many political interests are involved to allow consensus on the issue as governmental organs and the nuclear power and medical communities debate even the question of short-term casualties. The Soviet government put forth the initial figure of two deaths and then by the summer of 1986 raised the figure to 31 people killed (28 people from radiation poisoning and 3 from other causes). This figure of 31 casualties is the most quoted by the nuclear power industry and is still widely accepted in the press as the total casualty list. However, some experts on Ukraine and Chernobyl place the figure much higher and regard the Soviet figure (and the nuclear power industry statistics) as more deliberate obfuscation. David Marples wrote of the figure of 31 casualties, “The official casualty report has developed into something of a truism–if it is repeated often enough, people began to accept it.” Marples added, “…the figure of 31 direct casualties at Chernobyl is as mythic today as it was in 1986. During the early cleanup phase, it was clear there would be many more victims, particularly among the crews decontaminating the plant, those flying helicopter sorties over the roof of the gaping reactor in a flawed attempt to stop radiation from leaking into the atmosphere, and those working at the reactor scene at a variety of other hazardous tasks.”
    Of the decontamination workers, known as liquidators, at least 5,000 had died by 1990 although not all were attributable to Chernobyl and the Ukrainian health ministry places the number of Chernobyl-related deaths as approximately 4,000 for Ukrainian citizens. On the opposite end of the spectrum from the 31 figure, some unsubstantiated estimates from environmental organizations go as high as 125,000 deaths attributable to Chernobyl since 1986.

    Long-term Health Effects:
    Again, the question of the long-term health effects of Chernobyl is highly politicized. Advocates of nuclear power such as the IAEA tend to downplay long-term adverse effects of low-level radiation poisoning and the extensive research on the subject is not conclusive. Effectively, however, approximately two million Ukrainians live within contaminated areas surrounding Chernobyl including nearly 500 people who have voluntarily returned to live within the 30-km exclusion zone. Compounding the problem of living with unacceptably high levels of ambient radiation is the lack of uncontaminated food as a largely rural population in Ukraine and Belarus continue to eat contaminated local produce.

    A further obstacle to pinpointing the long-term health effects of the Chernobyl accident is the delineation between Chernobyl-related illnesses and those originating from other sources. The areas effected by radiation in Ukraine and Belarus are also heavily polluted areas from industrial sources. The difficult question then becomes which illnesses stem from what source? For example, using the Ukrainian Health Ministry estimates that only 28-32 percent of Ukrainian adults and 27-31 percent of children were assessed to be in good health in 1991, what portion of the approximate 70 percent of the population in ill health is due to Chernobyl? How do medical researchers discount illnesses caused by industrial pollutants, poor nutrition, the effects of smoking and alcohol, etc? There is no easy solution to this problem. Although the logical starting point would be to compare data for the affected regions prior to Chernobyl with data subsequent to the accident, the data is not complete in either case and has become a source of acrimony in the medical community—consequently allowing the data to remain open to political interpretation.

    Looking at the areas that have relative consensus, it seems apparent that in general that there has been a downturn in the health of the Ukrainian and Belarus populations. This has been highlighted in particular by dramatic increases in the rate of thyroid cancer among children which “…appear to correlate closely with the areas that received the most radioactive fallout.” Incidentally, had the Soviet government warned the population about the radiation, much of the iodine radiation poisoning could have been avoided by eating canned food and by not allowing children to drink contaminated milk. The studies quoted by Marples on thyroid cancer in Belarus and Ukraine indicate that approximately 90 percent of the childhood cases are Chernobyl-related and roughly 10 percent of those will be incurable. Furthermore, one estimate figures that one child in ten in the heavily contaminated areas is likely to develop thyroid cancer. IAEA studies (which tend to be dramatically more conservative than most) of more than 800 cases of thyroid cancer in children in Belarus indicate roughly similar results with a slightly higher percentage of cases attributable to Chernobyl but at a higher predicted success rate in treatment.

    Other biological concerns that have been related to the accident at Chernobyl are impaired immune response, increased rates of leukemia and other cancers as well as indications that genetic damage is occurring in animals and humans in the highly contaminated regions. This was surprising to some researchers who based on data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not expect to see genetic damage. Particularly disturbing are indications that DNA mutation is being passed down to subsequent generations. Some preliminary studies are showing DNA mutation rates among Belarus children are twice as high as in a control group of British children. The long-term effects of these genetic mutations are not understood and by their nature may not be for generations.

  112. Pete H says:

    Despite expert commentary trying to put them right the BBC seem to want people to think its going to be a Nuclear Winter! It really is sad that what was once the most respected broadcaster in the world is now reviled as a bed of political propaganda!

    Dellingpole this a.m….

    Nuclear fatalities in the last ten years: 7

    Wind farm fatalities in the last ten years: 44

    Go figure and lets look at the banana post again!

  113. Julie says:

    Translated Government messages/press releases here: http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/topics/2011/earthquake2011tohoku.html

  114. David says:

    How many accidents have there been worldwide with wind turbines, since they started being used in earnest..?
    One..?
    Ten..?
    A hundred..??
    Answer: 933.
    How many fatalities..?
    None..?
    One..?
    Ten..?
    Answer: 73.
    (There’ll be many more when maintaining offshore farms becomes an ongoing situation, I reckon..)
    Makes nuclear power’s record look pretty good, really…

  115. Barry Sheridan says:

    All this debate amazes me, firstly because thousands of people have lost their lives due to the earthquake and the resultant tsunami. Yet much of the media comment centres on the events at the nuclear power stations. If these hopelessly ignorant media people actually did some homework they would not put out what are obviously misleading headlines that can only add to the anxiety already present amongst those affected.

    Despite a catastophe of epic proportions the plants survived despite being heavily damaged. Yes they may not work again but the safety built in will contain the situation despite local consequences. Thankfully!

  116. Pete H says:

    Volt Aire says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Please go back and read the banana post on WUWT! Also try http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Battle_to_stabilise_earthquake_reactors_1203111.html for the real stuff not the MSN garbage!

  117. Ripper says:

    Ironically , the treatment for thyroid cancer is a thyroidectomy and a drink of radioactive iodine.

    If the diesels were running when they were flooded they would have hydraulic lock which usually bends the con rods , snaps cranks , cracks cylinders.

  118. Sam the Skeptic says:

    I was involved for several years through a local Rotary Club with a group that hosted groups of children affected by the Chernobyl event. As with so many if these do-gooding activities it began very laudably with the aim of getting some of these kids away from the area for a couple of weeks.
    I got into trouble with the local organisers last year when I suggested that none of the youngsters that were being hosted that year had been born until at least 10 years after the event. The reaction, as a friend commented at the time, “was as if you’d suggested the Virgin Mary was a whore”. (Slight exaggeration!)
    The whole “Chernobyl Concept” has taken on a life of its own but a couple of things have become very clear in the last 10 years or so:
    1. It’s a peg for the green anti-nuclear fanatics to hang their hats on and it will be trotted out and the effects exaggerated for just as long as it politically useful to do so. The facts (as with such things as Brent Spar, another Greenpeace myth) will not be allowed to get in the way of a campaign;
    2. Any deaths in excess of the official 56 are indeed getting “lost in the noise”. The problems that are being suffered by the children (and indeed adults) of Belarus and northern Ukraine are not those of radiation exposure but of dire poverty and abysmal living conditions. These may have served to exacerbate the effects of some radiation exposure as exposure may have made their pre-existing health problems worse.
    What is for certain is that 25 years on the effects and likely effects are well-established and as with many of the scare stories which the enviro-extremists rely on to boost their coffers and roll back civilisation to their mythical Golden Age their pronouncements (and their statistics) need to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

  119. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Ecological Tour to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
    http://www.tourkiev.com/chernobyltour/

    Twenty-three years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Solo East Travel offers an ecological tour of the power plant. Visitors get to see a reactor, the “dead town” of Pripyat, and the “red forest” where pine trees turned reddish orange because of radiation.

    Specifically that’s about 100 meters from reactor #4. On the way to the site you get to stop and feed the fish in a cooling channel. Two and three day tours are available. Stay at Chernobyl’s hotel, visit the Chernobyl Museum, see all the local attractions.

    Although it’s likely an error to say “radiation” turned the pine trees reddish orange. Historically uranium was used for red/orange coloration in glazed surfaces, which is why common pottery and ceramic objects can be radioactive, like old-fashioned Fiesta dinnerware (Fiestaware). Thus the pine tree coloration is likely just uranium oxide, from dust in the air post-explosion.

    BTW, if you’re curious about glazed surfaces, this is informative:
    http://nvl.nist.gov/pub/nistpubs/jres/105/2/j52hob.pdf
    Radioactivity Measurements on Glazed Ceramic Surfaces
    Thomas G. Hobbs, NIST, 2000

  120. Malaga View says:

    @ Mark Bowlin: Graduate paper 1997 – Chernobyl and Ukrainian foreign policy

    Thank you for bringing some perspective and sanity to this discussion….

  121. Grg Locke says:

    A few folks have mentioned this, but it bears repeating; there is no way the problems at the Japaese plants can turn into the sort of disaster that happened at Chernobyl. The Japanese plants have multiple containment structures, at least one of which is designed to deal with even a full core meltdown. There is no eviedence that thes containment structures have been compromised. (the explosions have damaged the buildings housing the reactor’s containment structures. Those buildings were never intended as radiation “containment” structures). Moreover, the reactions in all the Japanese plants have been shut down. The temperatures within the reactors are, therefore, going down, making it less likely that there will be a meltdown of nuclear fuel.

    Chernobyl, by comparison involved a meltdown of nuclear fuel outside any containment structure. That’s the worst of all worlds, and it is not going to happen in the Japanese plants.

    Everyone screaming disaster needs to calm down and focus on the real problem; helping the victims of the quake and tsunami. Calmly analyzed, this crisis, like TMI, shows that properly designed nuclear plants can withstand even the most extreme events, and survive with de minimis radiation leaks. Moreover, these plants were built in the early 70s. New designs are even safer. Unfortunately, an uninformed media with a thirst for hyprbole has already whipped up a frenzy of fear of all things nuclear. Our green friends with their precautionary principle preaching won’t fail to take advantage of this fear. Most of us will, I am afraid, not see the construction of a nuclear plant in the US during our lifetimes. Our society will the poorer for it.

  122. Mark Bowlin says:

    David says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:52 am
    “How many accidents have there been worldwide with wind turbines, since they started being used in earnest..?……Makes nuclear power’s record look pretty good, really…”

    Don’t you think you’re comparing apples to oranges here? The TMI and Chernobyl figures refer to a specific type of casualty, i.e., nuclear-related injury/death resulting from two specific events.
    I’m sure many more people were injured during the construction of those facilities or in the day to day operations. There’s no real analogy with wind power unless you want to compare, say, those sliced in half by the blades.

  123. Jeremy says:

    That 56 number from Chernobyl sounds a little low guys, does he have a reference for that? I agree we’re not even even approaching the 300+ range here and the numbers are not scary. But I believe there were more than 56 people who had direct exposure while trying to permanently encase the core and died soon thereafter from acute exposure. I would guess the number of surrounding-area-cancer-deaths to be on top of that number. That total number from Chernobyl that he’s quoting is a little suspect, just a little. I think it should be more in the 100-200 range, but I wasn’t there. I’ve just talked with people who were in Russia and in that industry at the time. I could be wrong, it just seems slightly low.

    It is interesting talking to these Russian guys. They say the reason there were any large numbers of civilian deaths/exposure is because a percentage of nuclear workers at Chernobyl fled the scene as soon as they realized that they were being exposed and some big event was going down. Many of those guys died later as they’d already had an unhealthy dose, but if they had stayed and sacrificed they might have saved other lives. Their comrades stayed and died sooner from the higher dose they received, but they also helped contain the problem.

  124. Wondering Aloud says:

    Well now I have read Volt Aire’s original article. It starts with a linear no threshold assumption (known to be not just wrong but in fact opposite to reality) From there it goes further and assumes that cancers in a carefully screened population are not higher than in and unscreened population unless they are radiation caused cancers.

    In total, absolutely unsupportable conclusions. Now Reading Mark Bowlin’s wall of text is very similar.

    Hey folks increase in thyroid cancers, the only ones showing significant increase that seem to relate to Chernobyl does not mean a huge increase in the death rate. Thyroid cancer is enormously treatable.

    I particularly like the estimate of more cleanup workers having died than the estimate of how many cleanup workers existed. Failure to isolate the variable can result in so much excitement.

  125. Al Gore's Holy Hologram says:

    FACT : More people die from KFC than from all nuclear incidents combined

  126. Malaga View says:

    Re: How many were killed by the Three Mile Island incident?

    Nobody knows the long term answer to that question….

  127. beng says:

    *****
    Pull My Finger says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:29 am

    I think the fact that Nuclear has proven so safe, TMI and Chernobyl were both human caused disasters. TMI workers ignored warning signs, Chernobyl workers actively worked towards blowing plant up. The fact that the Japanese plants are still relatively safe despite a biblical magnitude earthquake speaks pretty highly of the quality of construction. Let’s hope they avoid the meltdown, it’s been a bad enough week over there. But of course, hyperbole is the rule of the day when it comes to nukes.
    *****

    Good post.

    Early in the days of steam-plants, boiler explosions wreaked havoc on personnel & even bystanders. This is why the ASME boiler-codes were implemented & continue today — all without the help of government! Later the state govs got into the safety standards.

    If the precautionary principle had been used, we wouldn’t have steam-plants today & our electricity-for-anyone society wouldn’t have developed.

    It’s a symptom of mass-hysteria when people are scared-stiff of somewhat-damaged but still intact nuke plants (from which not a single person has died), and ignoring the thousands dead around them from the crushing effects of an earthquake-tsunami. The MSM invents & reinforces this hysteria.

    Knowledge & developed procedures can defeat this hysteria. Military “rad-monitoring” crews in the 1950s had it down so well that they could enter the very “hot” ground-zero area of a tower or air-burst from a nuke test within 30 mins to take samples in a stripped-down jeep (for ease of decontaminating) in their protective coveralls & filter masks. They just had to carefully monitor their Geiger-counters & limit their time-exposure, then employ the usual decontamination procedures immediately afterwards. Later, their personal rad-exposure “badges” were analyzed to indicate how much they had exposed to, and how much more they could safely tolerate. Similar procedures for pilots flying directly thru the radioactive mushroom clouds to take fission-product samples for bomb-analysis.

  128. Mike Bentley says:

    It strikes me (upside the head) that the folks here who are talking of the “possibility” of nuclear problems from a generating plant hop happily into the family car and buzz to the store – and yet the car is one of the most dangerous (and polluting) items on the planet. There is a lack of perspective in their concern.

    On the Precautionary Principle – as I understand it, this principle is supposed to take over when common sense is exhausted, according to one poster. That’s all fine and good I suppose, because Mark Twain once said common sense is neither common nor sense. Still, the difference between not dumping motor oil into the storm sewer because it “might” hurt someone down stream and fighting a nuc plant because it “might” irradiate someone sometime I think is a bit of a stretch…

    Oh, one final thing – Japan was hit by two blockbusters – the quake and a resulting Tsunami. To say that “all they need to do is (add your favorite fix here)” is just blowing smoke – the conditions there have to be beyond our imagination and I suspect some really smart people are working their butts off to keep the “lid” on and restore what they can. It’s really easy to pontificate on such things from the quiet and comfortable den or computer room, quite another to be in the center of chaos.

    Mike

  129. Pete H says:

    Workers
    From http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Battle_to_stabilise_earthquake_reactors_1203111.html

    “A seriously injured worker was trapped within Fukushima Daiichi unit 1 in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack and is now confirmed to have died. Four workers were injured by the explosion at the same reactor and have been taken to hospital. A contractor was found unconscious and taken to hospital.

    Two workers of a ‘cooperative firm’ were injured, said Tepco; one with a broken bone. A Tepco employee who was unable to stand and grasping his left chest was taken to hospital.

    At Fukushima Daiini unit 3 one worker received a radiation dose of 106 mSv. This is a notable dose, but comparable to levels deemed acceptable in emergency situations by some national nuclear safety regulators.

    The whereabout ( sic ) of two Tepco workers remains unknown. ”

    I have a lot of respect for the Japanese with Nuclear. The companies running the plants obey the rules in building the reactors and report what is going on to the government when things are going tits up. Their Government follow long practised rules and move the populace when required. As someone from the UK that knows people living near UK plants I am sorry to say the public have no such information or practices in order. Does the U.S practice even after TMI? Just asking!

  130. Pete H says:

    Ripper says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:05 am
    “Ironically , the treatment for thyroid cancer is a thyroidectomy and a drink of radioactive iodine.”

    !!! Please stop it!

    From the same link I have posted!

    “To protect the public from potential health effects of radioactive isotopes of iodine that could potentially be released, authorities have made preparations to distribute tablets of non-radioactive potassium-iodide. “

  131. Pete H says:

    I should have added that Thyroid cancer has nothing to do with this post!

  132. johnnythelowery says:

    Risk is the thing. The thing about Chernobyl is that it potentially could have rendered all of Europe un-inhabitable. Never heard that before??? No, neither did I. Unitil I invested the time and watched an in-depth French Documentary about Chernobyl (yes I’m aware of Anti-Nuke propoganda). If it wasn’t Gorbachev who said it, i’d never believed it. That is what Gorbachev knew. That’s why he decided to dismantle the S0viet Union(among things). Because such a threat to humanity had to be learned, even by him, via Nuclear workers in Sweden tripping the radiation scanner when coming IN to wotk their shift. THey had to trace the source of their radiation which they got while sitting at home, etc. A castrophe hunt was started to find out there this radiation had and could come from.

    DAVIS BESSIE. Anyone know anything about DAVIS BESSIE. No, it’s not Al Gore’s bit on the side. It’s a Nuclear Power Station sitting on the shore of one of the great lakes. Nuclear Power is in the stranglehold of Nuclear Money which is in the hands of Continuous operation at any costs; no matter how much corrosion shows up in the filters. Correct me if i’m wrong: the containment vessel at DAVIS BESSIE had corroded to within 1/8th of an inch of complete eat through. The corrosion particles had been showing up in the filters for years. Doh-I wonder where these could have come from?? Shut down to find out?? Not on your life. With this much cash at stake? You kidding me?

  133. Pete H says:

    Jeremy says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Imagine! This is the UK’s Guardian! Monbiot must have had a sh/te fit!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/oct/18/nuclear.russia

  134. Max Hugoson says:

    Interesting how it is hard to get “up to the minute” information, despite the internet.

    I’m rather suprised at myself, as I stayed up to 2AM last night, haunting the internet.

    A former nuclear worker (Engineer), this struck some sort of “deep cord” in my being. I didn’t “feel” agitated, but I could not get to sleep. (Normally to sleep about 11PM.)

    The footage of the second explosion concerns me. I was thinking “prompt critical” for a while, but then I realized the “rods are in”, and this would be difficult. Although the overheat of zirconium clad fuel rods, combined with steam…can and does generate a high amount of H2. Question is, how does one get an optimal O2 and H2 mix? It did happen at TMI, and gave a 30 PSI overpressure in the containment. Presuming an “optimal mix”, there might have been a 50 PSI pulse.

    This would knock the walls out, but the resultant vertical plume? I’m struggling with that.

    Max

  135. Sonicfrog says:

    Hey… No Fair! I blogged this first!!!!!

    On Three Mile Island, I noted this:

    Here is a question few are asking:

    How many people died or got ill due to the radiation leaked from TMI?

    Answer:

    NOT ONE!!!

    Yep.

    Nadda. None. Zilch.

    In fact, the only thing that can be proven to have died as a result of the Three Mile Island accident…. was the U. S. nuclear power industry!!!

  136. Alexander Harvey says:

    It is not corrrect to base arguments on nuclear fallout on the examples of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Both explosions were airbusrt detonations above their critical height for contaminating ground zero with fallout (fission products from the detonation). For explosions above their critical height the fission products are initially contained in the ascending column and cap produced by the explosion.

    The radiation that did impact around ground zero comprised the intense gamma ray flash and neutron bombardment. One effect of the neutron bombardment is the activation of materials already at ground zero by neutron capture to produced radioactive isotopes. These do not have the same chemical profile as the fallout and do not decay in the same manner, nor are they clumped into hot spots like the fallout from a reactor explosion.

    Fallout was produced by these explosions and it reached the surface as it rained out which did not commence until after the cloud had been swept away from the devasted area. In the case of Nagasaki the rainout commenced over a reservoir to the east of the city. I do not know where the majority of the fallout ended up but most likely in the Pacific, and the same for Hiroshima.

    The differences between the radiation decay modes between fallout and activated components was used to confirm that there was no measurable fallout in the devasted areas.

    The radiation in the devasted area is quite different to the fallout produced by the denonation which is in turn different from the fallout produced by a reactor accident in which fission products are released. It is quite wrong to argue from evidence of one of these cases to implications in another.

    Alex

  137. Gary says:

    I read through the article(s) and found the bottom line:

    “There is no source of energy that is without some risk. The challenge is to properly balance the risks.”

    I worked in line clearance, trimming trees around high power lines, then later as a lineman for the power company. Electricity is terribly, terribly dangerous. We use it every day. I have a first cousin who was horribly burned from a gasoline fire, her skin grafts are ongoing even after nearly 40 years. We are awash in dangers related to power and energy. It is one of the prices to be paid for harnessing the dynamo. The tragedy is that some pay the price while others live out their entire lives, oblivious to the awful costs.

  138. johnnythelowery says:

  139. johnnythelowery says:

    The top one is #3/11 and the bottom clip is #2/11.

    Fortunately, the true magnitude of the threat by Chernobyl is immortalized by Gorbachev in person, on camera.

  140. HenryP says:

    I knew nuclear power is not save…
    (unless they use thorium, but I’m not sure how far they are with implementation. Does somebody know?)
    Also, as it stands at the moment, it uses a lot of water for cooling which causes
    1) more GHG
    2) the returned warm water (minus O2& CO2) kills all the fish and other ocean life
    better go for coal (minus (CO, SO2 and heavy metals) or even better, gas.
    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok

  141. Claude Harvey says:

    I think some of us have lost sight of what is real and what is not. The following scenario is “real”. There are five monster buildings lined up in a neat row. We all agree that there is some very dangerous stuff caged in the bowels of each of those buildings. Some of us are sure that dangerous stuff cannot get out and harm us. Others of us are not so positive. As we watch those buildings through heavy lenses, the following occurs:

    1) Men in radiation suits begin pouring out of those buildings, rigging up pumps, hoses and other paraphernalia and begin pumping sea water into the buildings.
    Some of us say, “Not to worry. These folks know what they’re doing.” Others of us say, “Sea water will ruin the ‘stuff’! These guys must be desperate!”
    2) Suddenly, the roof and walls blow off one of the buildings. Some of us say, “Not to worry! That building was just cosmetic anyway.” Others of us say, “WTF?”
    3) More men in radiation suits run outside the buildings. Everyone without a suit is told to leave the area, PRONTO! U.S. Navy fighting ships off shore of the buildings relocate away from downwind.
    4) Suddenly, the roof and walls blow off a second of the buildings. The men in radiation suits tell us to keep an eye on building number three if we enjoyed watching the first two explode.
    5) Some of us say, “Everyone is over reacting.” Others of us say, “You have to be kidding me!”

  142. Don K says:

    “The Japanese archipelago is called a “volcanic island arc.” The events that happened over the last few days are predictable and certain. A large mega-thrust earthquake is certain to happen again since only a small portion of the Pacific tectonic plate ruptured.”

    All true. But you do understand that plate tectonics was brand new, and poorly understood when those plants were designed? If anyone had told the plant designers that a magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquake near the reactor site was not only possible, but likely, I think that the response would have been prolonged dead silence.

  143. ES says:

    At Fukushima Daichi, four workers were injured by the explosion at the Unit 1 reactor, and there are three other reported injuries in other incidents. In addition, one worker was exposed to higher-than-normal radiation levels that fall below the IAEA guidance for emergency situations. At Fukushima Daini, one worker has died in a crane operation accident and four others have been injured. See Japan Earthquake Update (13 March 2011 02:35 CET) — Corrected .

    Six people have been in second injured Unit 3 reactor. See Japanese Earthquake Update (14 March 07:00 CET).

    http://www.iaea.org/press/

  144. Deanster says:

    There’s a little known program in the US called ERAMS. It’s been functioning for decades and measures the amount of radiation floating around in the air all over the country. I once got to look at the data for this program. What was impressive, was the amount of radiation floating around during the nuclear weapons test era of the 50s-60s … gigantic …. like some 10-100 times greater than the little blip that showed up after Chernobyl.

    I think these kinds of accidents are pretty serious for the people living in the immediate area …. but the rest of the world need not worry much.

  145. Mike McMillan says:

    Ah, once more, where to begin.

    Did anyone notice that there was a huge explosion at the site, one that blew the entire top of a building to smithereens, and after the dust cleared, there was the reactor containment structure, unfazed? Solid pre-TMI design from half a century ago.

    And yes, 56 is probably a good number for Chernobyl deaths. Intense radiation, radiation sickness, dead heroes. If you survive the initial sickness, you recover, you live your life. The body has mechanisms for repair: if it didn’t, we wouldn’t survive as a species. Some damage results in cancer a long time later, just as getting lots of sunburns as a kid will. The people exposed are being tracked, at least as well as a government-run health system can manage, and like the CAGW scenario, the terrible numbers just aren’t there.

    I was around for TMI, and got to hear all the alarmists on tv saying how a zillionth of a percent increase in radiation was going to result in x number of extra cancer deaths. It was all bogus linear extrapolations down to zero, and frankly, at the margin of error involved, a decrease in cancer deaths would be within the margin. The only physical result of TMI was the trashing of a couple hundred million bucks worth of hardware. Flooding the Japanese containments with sea water is going to do the same thing.

    All the nuke plants in Japan will be further reinforced and have their emergency cooling diesels moved upstairs, along with extra coolant tanks. Good. Japan has neither oil nor natural gas, so it must have nukes, and they must be near a seriously active fault.

    Fukushima is the least of Japan’s worries right now.

  146. Theo Goodwin says:

    Peter Taylor says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:20 am
    “Deekaman – you take an uneducated swipe at the Precautionary Principle – I spent ten years at UN conventions making sure it became law – and am glad of it.”

    The Precautionary Principle should be renamed the “Hysterical Principle.” According to the principle, if I must make a decision and neither science nor accumulated experience can provide evidence that would guide this decision then I must choose to avoid risk even if the chance of triggering something harmful is vanishingly small.

    It is quite easy to criticize this principle by pointing to the absurd consequences that follow upon its application. For example, this principle would require an end to all space exploration immediately. Who knows what awful bug might be brought back to Earth?

    In addition, it is quite easy to criticize this principle on the basis of its intellectual pedigree. After all, it is simply a version of Pascal’s Wager, something that William James explained when he embraced it. In either formulation, Pascal’s or James’, the principle has been roundly rejected for three hundred years or so.

    It is quite easy to criticize the principle on the ground that all who hold it refuse to apply it to themselves. Given Pascal’s Wager, do you attend church every Sunday?

    But the real problem with the principle is that it invites people to make judgements about science and accumulated experience that make a mockery of both. Science is not static. It is constantly changing. Applying the Precautionary Principle requires that science and technology must be static, at least for the time that the Principle is applied. Furthermore, neither science nor technology is passive. Yet those who apply the Principle have chosen to forgo new scientific exploration or technology development.

    All in all, the Principle has nothing to recommend it. That is, nothing except that is satisfies the hysterical.

  147. AntonyIndia says:

    In India 200000 people die in traffic accidents; many more get wounded. Should they all switch back to walking?
    No: learn by trial and error and from other countries how to reduce these numbers and risks.

  148. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:

    Questions answered from an ex-Navy who served in the Navy nuclear power program. He was an instructor in nuclear power:

  149. Janice says:

    Arijigoku says: “When you post articles about how radioactive bananas are it doesn’t illustrate how safe nuclear power is, but shows how poorly “absorbed dose” measures the true danger of radiation. How would you rather receive your dose: in bananas or plutonium?”

    I have had the privilege of working with a number of people who did some of the original research on Plutonium. Many of them had a body burden of various actinides, as the rules for working with actinides were being written during the time they were actively working with plutonium, uranium, and such. I have never heard of anyone dying from inhaling actinide particles, and the men I worked with were extremely healthy. Most of them never got a cold or flu, and many are still actively working, well past the age that most men retire. The only deaths I have known about (including Chernobyl) were because of criticality incidents, and that is dependent on three things, which are time, distance, and shielding. The men who were sent in to deal with the industrial accident were there too long for the distance they had to work at. If they had been cycled out, it is possible that many, other than those killed in the industrial explosion, would have survived.

    I would not suggest that eating plutonium (or rather, breathing it in) would be a sensible way to lengthen your life and improve your health. Nor do people eat bananas to increase their radioactive potassium levels. But I would like to see better reporting of the true problems, rather than a generic “radiation levels are 1000 times normal.” When radioactive steam is vented, what isotopes are present, and what are their half-lives? When I receive radioactive iodine as part of a test procedure, I can see the radiation emitted from it dropping off in a matter of hours. When there is a forest fire, you can see the radiation levels rise, and then fall, again within a few hours.

    I think we should be more concerned about these survivors getting immediate care in the form of food, water, and shelter. They will definitely die without those things. They will probably not die over a slight increase in radiation. To agonize over radiation, without even knowing specifics about isotopes and actual readings, is to divert energy and thought from what is really important to the survivors, and to those people who wish to aid them.

  150. roger says:

    Jordan says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:08 am
    I’m with Volt Aire. Take this post down. It is bad for WUWT.

    In my country, we give respite visits to groups of children from the affected region. We don’t need a crude and oversimplistic assessment of immediate deaths, or academic report to see the harm.
    The crude and oversimplistic assessment of immediate deaths has been spewing forth without abatement from the 24 hour rolling news providers, with scarcely concealed ghoulish delight underlying their spurious sepulchral delivery.
    This thread provides useful, educative academic reports that are garnished in the main by thoughtful and sympathetic comments and questions, that in no way could be considered disrespectful or careless to the plight of the Japanese people.
    Open your mind, exorcise your daemons, confront the realities that inevitably happen in life, and above all, learn.

  151. Curious Canuck says:

    Is there any substance to the reports that Russia, and Japan to a lesser extent, have histories of being less than forthcoming with nuclear incident information?

    On Chernobyl, I can’t quite wrap my head around so many of my fellow skeptics speaking in support of the 56 deaths number. I’m inclined to believe that fifty-six sounds about as likely as 125,000. Both of those numbers come from notorious spin doctoring machinary. Why would we be so quick to embrace the Russian estimates and dismiss the Ukraine’s estimates so overwhelmingly?

  152. agimarc says:

    Looked like the second explosion lifted the outside building straight up rather than blowing out the side, which is why the plume was vertical. Toward the end of the video, you can see the building slide off the plume and fall down to the front left as you view it. Think of a firecracker under a coffee can. Wouldn’t surprise me if the quake weakened the connection between the building and its foundation. Cheers -

  153. Jeremy Poynton says:

    Bravenewclimate article rebuttal passed on to me (don’t shoot the messenger!)

    *
    a quick search reveals a Dr. Josef Oehmen at MIT — but he’s a specialist in supply chain risk management, not nuclear reactors.

    He’s citing all sorts of facts about what’s going on inside the reactors that just haven’t been revealed by the govt. For someone who’s neither a journalist nor a member of Japan’s nuclear industry, he either has an amazing inside source providing info absolutely no one else has, or he’s making it up. Josef Oehmen studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University Munich, ETH Zurich and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While working in industry, he obtained an MBA degree. He is currently a PhD student at the ETH Zurich Centre for Enterprise Sciences (BWI). His major research interests lie in the internationalisation of the value chains of mid-sized Swiss companies, especially the related supply chain risk management. Josef is a reviewer for several international journals and member of the supervisory board of a start-up in the field of climate protection. I dunno how any of the above qualifies him to comment in great detail on nuclear power plants.

    *
    These are the sources “Dr. Oehmen” recommends to get better informed:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/: This site belongs to the “World Nuclear Association (WNA)”. So, what does Wikipedia tells us about it? “The World Nuclear Association…… (WNA), formerly the Uranium Institute, is an international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.”
    So, basically, a lobbying enterprise. And we are to expect *serious*, *unbiased* information about power plants and their safety from such an organisation?

    http://ansnuclearcafe.org/: This website belongs to American Nuclear Society (ANS), another lobbying organisation. Let’s cite Wikipedia again: “Its main objective is to promote the advancement of science and engineering relating to the atomic nucleus.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Nuclear_Society]

  154. Erik says:

    @Volt Aire says:
    March 14, 2011 at 1:14 am

    “Claiming 56 deaths for Chernobyl is total and utter BS.”
    —————————————————————-
    Chernobyl fallout not as bad as first feared

    ONLY 56 people have so far died directly as a result of the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986, including 9 children with thyroid cancer. In the end, perhaps up to 4,000 people will die from radiation-caused illness.

    Those figures are much lower than many would guess, if they were asked. After the accident, some predicted that tens of thousands would die. But the new United Nations report this week, discussed at a Vienna conference ending today, blows what you might call a breath of fresh air on to nearly two decades of fears about the world’s worst nuclear accident.

    For those prepared to hear reassurance about the risks of nuclear power, this report offers plenty. Its most sober warning is about the threat to health from the mere fact of living within the former Soviet Union. For that misfortune, it offers no comfort at all. It is compiled from the work of 100 scientists on behalf of the Chernobyl Forum: a collaboration of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog, the World Health Organisation, six other UN agencies, and the governments of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article563521.ece

  155. Mrmethane says:

    If this hasn’t been stated yet:
    The plants in Japan survived the earthquake which was orders of magnitude stronger than their design spec. The tsunami which was NOT foreseen in the design spec, swamped the cooling systems, making it very difficult to implement a graceful (3-day or so) cooling off period for plant shutdown. Think about that – the plants survived one of the largest quakes in recorded history. The postponement of nuclear plant construction and deployment will kill and harm far more people than all of the nuclear power plant accidents to date. By many orders of magnitude. The sky is not falling.

  156. BenfromMO says:

    If you read the pre-cautionary principle and apply it correctly, it forbids its own usage!

    Strange but true…a principle that in essence is a waste of space.

    Nuclear power, weapons and energy is always going to be fraught with fear because normal people have no understanding of radiation. The general public is under this impression that radiation is all bad mkay. We receive fairly high dosages from our doctors of all people…and this is more then likely about the amount that most radiation events revolve around. Dosages that are safe, but perhaps not good for you on a long-term basis or over and over again.

    But to talk more about the so-called principle:
    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:44 am
    AndyW35, that was my point back at the start of the comments. It is the ‘potential’ that nuclear power holds for disaster. Unfortunately, at least two commentators took exception to my comment and somehow confused the Precautionary Principle with it – which I never even mentioned! Still, as someone used to arguing points on forums, I well used to someone reading something in my arguments that I never wrote!

    The reason people are discussing the precautionary principle is because you are attempting to apply it to this situation. You did not mention it, but what you discussed was the precautionary principle.

    The best we can do as a species is survive. Radiation is natural and if you read the banana thread on this webpage (I actually learned a lot despite thinking that I knew quite a bit about radiation.) You would learn that there are various levels of “background radiation” across the planet. None of the radiation levels except within earshot of the nuclear plant will go over natural levels elsewhere on the planet. Some notable cases include mountains of Colorado where they used to mine uranium. That uranium has a half-life of billions of years and will continue to give off radiation long after humanity has gone extinct.

    The notable question of “what could go wrong” means nothing. In reality the only thing that matters is what actually happened and what happens.

    We should use these disasters to learn and to install better methods such as the generation 3 reactors which do not share this issue. Thorium also is a very good bet.

    There are options and there is no such thing as “10000 years of life-lessness”. That is just superstitious mumbo-jumbo put out by environmentalists. Indeed, we could clean up any nuclear disaster that we wanted to, its simply a question of whether we want to or not. L

    There might still be areas in and around Chernobyl that are uninhabitable, but that has nothing to do with radiation, but more with a lack of cleaning up of a disaster area completely. Three mile island is not even worth mentioning, as the worst case scenario for a BWL reactor happened and although it was terrible and cost the reactor which is expensive, no one died from the event.

    We could say that perhaps some people will die from this event or that maybe perhaps someone died from Three Mile Island, but what makes these cases so interesting is that you can not tell if a death event happened from radiation exposure X (TMI) or from the local dentist’s office. There is absolutely no way to tell the difference and speculating that perhaps someone died is pure hubris. Something like that is impossible to disprove and as such is a hallmark of junk science such as AGW about making a theory that is impossible to disprove.

    I would think we can all appreciate that junk science is going to stick around, but I do hope we as a species learn that applying the precautionary principle is a waste of time.

    On another subject, I hope the media realizes what they are doing. Its the death of the green movement writ large. Not sure if that is what they intend, but by banning nuclear power that movement is destined to fail with nothing to fall-back on that actually works well.

  157. Neil Jones says:

    Sandy says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Same old caveats, It is estimated that there may ultimately be a total of 4,000 deaths attributable to the accident, due to increased cancer risk”

  158. Jeremy says:

    Pete H says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Ah, it’s good to be wrong. Better to admit it.
    Though, in fairness, that low number is a Soviet number, who would have lots of interest in fudging the numbers. Would be better to talk to the Ukrainians.

  159. Wondering Aloud says:

    The number of deaths and injuries from three mile island is in fact known. It is exactly zero. someone might have died in an accident fleeing the area or I suppose many years from now someone could tunnel into the reactor vessel and smack his head on something. The statements like no one knows how many will eventually die from it are really silly.

    I don’t care who said that Chernobyl could have rendered Europe uninhabitable, whoever said it didn’t have a clue. There is simply not enough radiation there, and there never was, to do such a thing. Far more people were killed by the fear of the accident than the actual accident even at Chernobyl. Tiny radiation doses are generally harmless which is a darn good thing because virtually everyone recieves several hundred mrem per year.

    Alexander my question on your argument is why? When and how the dose is delivered is what is important. The source of the dose is not. You are not safer or less safe because the dose comes from fallout or background nor because it is from fission or fusion or activated nuclei.

    I guess I am saying your statement for any practical health reasons is totally incorrect.

  160. DesertYote says:

    Michael R says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I just had the most absurd comment directed at me in relation to this crisis. Essentially it went:

    Other Person “Has the nuclear reactor blown yet?”

    Me “No thankfully the core remains intact”.

    Other Person “Ahh, I was hoping it was a full meltdown”

    Me “Excuse me?”

    Other Person “Well if it was a big explosion then it might convince everyone to stop using Nuclear because it is too dangerous”.

    Suffice to say this comment just floored me.
    ####

    Sad … but I have heard worse. I am from Arizona, one of the birth places of eco-terrorism. I know people who believe that sabotaging a Nuclear Reactor to cause a catastrophic meltdown is a good way to show people how dangerous Nuclear Power is. The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant has been attacked several times. During its construction, greeny moles who slipped through pre-hire security checks, were doing work that was intended to fail. After a welder was caught breaking welds that had been inspected, then covering up the damage, a reinspection of the whole cooling system was done. It sure looked like the idea was not to prevent the plant from coming on line, but for it to become operational and then experience a news-making catastrophic meltdown because of a cooling system failure.

  161. Vince Causey says:

    johnnythelowery says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:42 am

    ” If it wasn’t Gorbachev who said it, i’d never believed it. That is what Gorbachev knew. That’s why he decided to dismantle the S0viet Union(among things).”

    Gorbachev decided to dimantle the Soviet Union? Is that why he described the declarations of independence by the Baltic states as ‘criminal acts,’ and sent in the Red Army to put down the uprisings.

    Gorbachev had no intention of dismantling the Soviet Union – he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or right place at the right time, depending on your point of view). He could no more close the floodgates of liberty than could Hosni Mubarrak in Egypt. Anyone who lived through that period witnessed the uprisings of the people against the state. It was a revolution in the purest sense.

    The people of Romania are proud of their revolution – they have photographs adorning walls of bars showing ordinary soldiers fighting the forces loyal to the dictator Caucescu. Tell them how it was Gorbachev who set them free.

  162. Hoser says:

    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:16 am

    ‘potential to fail’
    ________________________

    There is greater certainty of death from failing to provide the energy we need to support billions of people on the planet. How many people will suffer starvation, illness and ultimate death because we were scared witless by people with an agenda to kill off nuclear power and force us to accept centralized command and control government planning, with blackouts and food shortages? Think Soviet Union. Is that what we want?

    Nuclear power has the potential to free all of us, and that is not what the international bankers and elites want. Nuclear power especially in the form of newer designs are 1000x safer than 1960s designs. And so far, nobody has died of radiation in Japan from these older failed reactors. In fact, they haven’t failed yet. Their reduntant safety systems are containing the vast majority of radioactivity.

    Notice how there is very little reference to an amount of radiation compared to a meaningful reference. What does 1000x higher than ‘normal’ mean. Sounds pretty scary. Background levels can vary by orders of magnitude depending on where you live. What could serve as a reference level is your normal background dose from natural sources such as 40K in your body right now. We tolerate that energetic radiation quite well.

    I hope the reactor story will be a non-story. The real lesson is the engineering was pretty darn good. Even a disaster far larger than these plants were designed to handle hasn’t resulted in widespread high-level contamination. No one has died. It is likely that no one will die from radiation. The systems worked to prevent a huge catastrophe.

    Japan will not give up nuclear energy. They will rebuild, but use newer designs. The US and UK should not be deterred from a nuclear renaissance. Nuclear power will free us from foreign fossil fuel dependence. We have enough uranium and thorium to last centuries. Nuclear energy can even support a new hydrogen fuel economy. These steps will take decades.

    Turning to green power with windmills and solar panels will result in one or more generations suffering through a third-world living conditions. That direction would be cruel punishment for millions of people. Green energy will kill people for sure, at a slow steady grinding pace through illness, starvation, poverty and depression.

    Energy permits us to do things that otherwise would not be possible. High per capita energy use is NOT a bad thing. It is sustainable. We just have to change our energy source slowly and steadily away from fossil fuels to nuclear power.

    Where would we be now if we had been afraid to bring fire into the cave?

  163. Michael C. Roberts says:

    I have been involved in the industrial/commercial thermal insulation (temperature control insulation) industry since1977. Some of the many projects I have been involved with in that time, were nuclear power generating plants (while under construction). The plants I worked on were designed as Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR’s). As I was a very young Field Engineer at the time, I was hired in late 1981 to assist in retrofitting seismic support systems (simply, pipe hangers and vessel/pump “hold-down” systems) that required upgrading by the NRC – due to lessons learned from the TMI event. In my life, TMI strangely gave me a way to enter into what would become my personal life-long work career. Strange how these things happen…
    Back to it. My main point is this: the more modern (post-TMI) PWR designs, incorporate safety systems that are not installed at the older PWR’s, and were not designed into the even more primitive Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) systems. For the “modern” PWR’s in addition to more robust seismic support for the systems, the other safety features are the Containment Spray (CS) and Safety Injection (SI) systems. Even though (at least to me!) the systems seem self-explanatory, let’s review what these systems are designed to do in the event of a reactor scram (for whatever reason).

    Safety Injection pumps (electrically powered) pull water from intially the SI tanks, and inject it directly into the reactor vessel to keep it cool. Secondarily, the water can come from the main source of the cooling water for the plant (river, lake, ocean, etc.). Conatinment Spray takes water from the CS systems sources (primary + backups as previous) and basically sprays the water from the reactor containment roof, to assist in cooling the inside of the containment building. Neither of these emergency safety systems are installed in the BWR plants that are now experiencing problems in Japan. That being said, the issues of available electricity to run the pumps needs to be assured (or the PWR’s would start to heat up as in Japan, regardless of design, unless SI/CS water was gravity-fed as others have stated). In conclusion, what I am saying that in regards to “newer” (post-TMI) constructed PWR plants built throughout the world, redundant safety systems and upgraded seismic (earth-movement) support systems are already there. This makes them leaps and bounds more capable to withstand once-in-a-lifetime disaster events such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Newer, more modern designs in to-be-constructed plants, would only included even safer technological advances. I am sure other engineers out there from the “old” nuclear construction industry can weigh in on this???

    Regards,

    Michael C. Roberts

  164. KLA says:

    An article by Zbigniew Jarowski, former chairman of UNSCEAR, the UN body that studied the health effects of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl:

    http://www.ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/cherno-zbigniew_fear-06.htm

  165. mkelly says:

    Let’s see it was hydrogen explosions that blew the roof off both buildings so we should now eschew this as a possible fuel for vehicles. No fuel cell tech, possible explosions.

  166. Crispin in Ulaanbaatar says:

    If they had built CANDU reactors like Canada and Argentina they would not have had any of the above treasure trove of problems. Heavy water + U235. Not all nukes are alike.

    Reactors should not need the presence of something pressurized to remain safe and cool. That is a no-brainer.

    Personally I favour Throium-Flouride and geothermal. Some solar-thermal with pumped water storage is good for say, South Africa/Lesotho. There are much simpler options than cranky wind and steam-puffing fast breeder reactors.

  167. tango says:

    the tree huggers are all happy now

  168. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From johnnythelowery on March 14, 2011 at 6:42 am:

    DAVIS BESSIE. Anyone know anything about DAVIS BESSIE.

    Yeah, it’s hard to search for when not spelled correctly.
    Wikipedia: Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station

    Correct me if i’m wrong: the containment vessel at DAVIS BESSIE had corroded to within 1/8th of an inch of complete eat through. The corrosion particles had been showing up in the filters for years.

    Okay. From the Wikipedia entry:

    In March 2002, plant staff discovered that the boric acid that serves as the reactor coolant had leaked from cracked control rod drive mechanisms directly above the reactor and eaten through more than six inches[10] of the carbon steel reactor pressure vessel head over an area roughly the size of a football (see photo). This significant reactor head wastage left only 3/8 inch of stainless steel cladding holding back the high-pressure (~2500 psi) reactor coolant.

    The problem was acid dripping onto the carbon steel head, thus there would have been no particles to show up in the coolant filters. The corrosion was from the outside going inward, stopping at the stainless steel as it should have, not from the inside out. And 3/8″ (not 1/8″) of stainless steel to hold in ~2500 psi sounds adequate, hydraulic cylinders at 3000 psi can have only 1/4″ wall thickness, but don’t take that as any sort of endorsement as it was a dangerous situation that immediately needed fixing and shouldn’t had happened anyway.

    The Wikipedia entry goes further than you, citing more problems. It also says the 2002 incident led to $600 million in repairs and upgrades. Plant restarted in March 2004. Further,

    According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Davis-Besse has been the source of two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States since 1979.

    Now, note the commission date of the plant is July 31, 1978.

    On September 24, 1977, the reactor, running at only 9% power, shut down because of a disruption in the feedwater system.[4] This caused the relief valve for the pressurizer to stick open. As of 2005, the NRC considers this to be the fourth highest ranked safety incident.[5]

    That “#4 of the Top 5″ incident was before commissioning, during low-power testing. The regulatory system worked, the flaw was discovered early.

    The reactor head hole was #5 of the Top 5. Neither resulted in exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

    It may not sound too great, but if that’s what the bottom two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents look like, those below the top five can’t be all that terrible.

  169. banjo says:

    Malaga View says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Re: How many were killed by the Three Mile Island incident?

    Nobody knows the long term answer to that question….

    what do you call longterm?
    How many in the 32 years since it happened?
    many? some ? none?

  170. DanB says:

    Hugo-
    The back up generators arrived and apparently the plugs did not match up with plant receptacles. That’s what’s incomprehensible.

  171. Craig Goodrich says:

    @Peter Taylor:

    As for the Japanese reactor – the death toll is not the main criteria, as with Chernobyl or TMI, it is how close you come to sterilising millions of acres of productive agricultural land, evacuating cities for a hundred years and losing livelihoods for several hundred thousand of even millions of people.

    … as of course happened at Hiroshima and Chernobyl. This is hysterical rubbish.

    The US came close. Chernobyl vented largely toward Belarus’s empty quarter of swampland. The UK and France have both suffered narrow escapes due to loss of coolant incidents.

    No, the US did not come close. There was never any danger whatever of the reactor vessel being breached, much less the containment building. A crucial fact about TMI that is not understood is that the accident occurred because poorly-trained operators persisted in overriding automatic systems that were trying to shut the reactor down long before there was any danger of permanent damage. And this was with a reactor design nearly 40 years old. And still there was no dangerous radiation release.

    Having said that, though, one thing that bothers me about the Fukushima One situation is the way the top of the containment building was apparently just blown off by the hydrogen explosion. In the US, containments are domed (to maximally spread pressure), poured of the hardest concrete available over a very tight web of high-strength pedigreed rebar. (In the early ’80s I worked at several nuke construction sites.) It’s inconceivable that the outer containment of such a plant could be damaged by an internal hydrogen explosion.

    From the photos, it appeared that the Fukushima containment was much flimsier. Anybody have any specific information on this?

  172. Sandy says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster
    The wiki that I quoted at the top of the comments has been altered.
    A case of “can’t face facts so change facts”??

  173. Pull My Finger says:

    DanB, one source noted that the containment on the Japanese reactors is much weaker than at TMI. Of course Chernobyl didn’t even have a containment unit.

    Look next to “Disaster Waiting to Happen” and Chernobyl will be there. The plant was an absoloute disgrace to design.

  174. Craig Goodrich says:

    @Jeremy:

    Once again, contentless ad hominem in lieu of factual argument. Dr. Oehmen makes a lengthy and detailed case for the safety of the plant, yet all we see from the hysterics is evil corporations, evil corporations, evil corporations. When does the Left plan to grow up?

  175. Erik says:

    Deaths per TWh for all energy sources: Rooftop solar power is actually more dangerous than Chernobyl

    Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
    Coal – China 278
    Coal – USA 15
    Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
    Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
    Biofuel/Biomass 12
    Peat 12
    Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
    Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
    Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
    Hydro – world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
    Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/deaths-per-twh-for-all-energy-sources.html

  176. Grg Locke says:

    Craig,

    The outer building destroyed in the H2 blast at Fukushima was not a containment building of the type you described. The domed concrete and steel containment building is still intact, as is the reactor vessel itself. The destroyed building housed equipment and facilities, but was no more well built than your average warehouse.

    On another matter, the naval officer being interviewed in Cross Patch’s audio said the introduction of cooling water without boron into the reactor vessel could restart the nuclear reaction, even though the control rods were in place and intact. His explanation makes sense, but it’s the firat I’ve heard that the reactions could start spontaneously after being stopped by the control rods. Does anyone have any insight into this issue?

  177. Tim Clark says:

    Chernobyl did not have a containment vessel. It was built with a graphite pile to maximize weapons grade Pu production. Anybody who compares it to the Japanese reactors needs to read up.

  178. DanB says:

    Pull My Finger-
    I was only addressing the reason the back up generator replacements were not activated, nothing else, and apparently the source I was using from BraveNewClimate has been called into question above.
    I know nothing of the thickness of the Fushiama containment vessel, I hope it’s adequate.
    And Chernobyl is just FUBAR, needs no discussion here.

  179. Hugo M says:

    DanB said on March 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

    The back up generators arrived and apparently the plugs did not match up with plant receptacles. That’s what’s incomprehensible

    … if true and relevant, since such problems shouldn’t be insurmountable by (Japanese) electricians, even if pressed for time. But anyway, this is quite old news. In the meantime, Tepco says, they had restored power to all reactors, one way or another. But they still don’t get the water in! And if should be true that they are trying to use fire pumps as a replacement for feed water pumps, you also know why any noted success was only temporary.

  180. HenryP says:

    Henry@deanster
    The interesting part is that all 5 or 6 big earth quakes occurred in the pacific.
    Was it not the USA, France and UK who used the pacific as their testing ground for testing nuclear bombs?
    There is of course no relationship between these tests and the earthquakes a few decades later?

  181. Ryan says:

    To those who still believe nuclear power is safe. What we know is this much. Two nuclear plants in Japan have exploded and we are now finding out that over 10,000 Japanese are dead and billions of dollars in property has been irretrievably ruined. So put that in your flue pipe and smoke it!

  182. ChrisM says:

    Has anyone seen any official or credible statement on the number of curies released? From the contamination statements made, it does not seem significant. I suspect it is in the truckload of bananas quantity.

  183. anorak2 says:

    bbph above is right. The German media are currently mental. The focus has now almost completely moved away from the devastating earthquake and tsnuami, and is now on the reactors, and on nuclear power in general. Headlines read “nuclear disaster imminent”, “50 celebrities call for shutdown of all nuclear reactors”, “The end of the nuclear age” and so on. The Merkel government (who last year had extended the legal lifespan of the remaining reactors, partly undoing the shutdown decision of the previous red/green government), decided today to undo this extension and shutdown a couple of older reactors immediately. All this frenzy is based on nothing but the events with the Japanese reactors. There is no logic at all. If there was a trainwreck in Japan, would we use that as a reason to shut down our railways?

    Is any of this happening in other countries? I’m reading the headlines here on CNN and BBC. I see they’re reporting on the reactor, but much more toned down, and without moving the focus away from the terrible earthquake. The German media are an order of magnitude more hysteric. And has any other government in the world made decisions concerning their own reactors based on the events in Japan?

  184. Pull My Finger says:

    Four of five water pumps have failed. Hopefully they can get replacements! However things are still secure.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2011/03/14/ABk6rQV_story.html

  185. Grg Locke says:

    Just curious Ryan, but do you actually believe that the deaths and damages you cite, while accurate as far as we know, are in any way related to the H2 explosions at the Fukushima power plant?

  186. Dave says:

    As usual the “US Experts” the media consults are the same suspects…

    This person has an interesting take on the coverage…http://kenalovell.com/blog/2011/03/13/why-i-no-longer-watch-the-news/

  187. Rhoda R says:

    Ryan, I truely hope that you’ve forgotten the sarc tag.

  188. 4 eyes says:

    So far the reactors in Japan haven’t catastrophically failed despite having the worst earthquake the world has seen thrown at them. I think that is a good sign – not a bad sign. If is eventuates that the reactors can be saved from meltdown then there is great cause to celebrate. BTW, anyone talking about potential MUST assign probabilities, otherwise what they say is meaningless.

  189. asshur says:

    @Ryan
    The sad number of deaths are caused by an earthquake and a tsunami, and follow-up incidents, NONE to-date due to radiation exposure.
    There have been explosions in the nuclear facility, but as far as it is known the core radiactive and protective elements seem safe so far.

    Demagogy is out of place here

  190. Tony says:

    Tony says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Just for the record, a different Tony. Guess I’m going to have to change my posting name.

  191. Al Gore's Holy Hologram says:

    “Volt Aire says:
    March 14, 2011 at 1:14 am
    Claiming 56 deaths for Chernobyl is total and utter BS. The total death toll from the incident is likely in the hundreds of thousands but it is lost in the “static” of the millions of deaths occurring yearly in the fallout area.”

    Your ‘likely’ numbers are not based on reality. Incidentally, Chernobyl area is now home to the most diverse wildlife in all of Ukraine and plant life has consumed the old town.

  192. Nuclear power plants are designed with incredible attention to detail by thousands of highly trained and educated professionals, following the strictest guidelines, using the finest materials and components available, with primary containments capable of withstanding the impact of a utility pole travelling axially at 300 mph, with redundancy upon redundancy upon redundancy. And yet the unthinkable happened at Fukashima, a site supposedly designed to resist earthquakes prevalent in the area. (Makes you wonder what seismic criteria was used in the design. Apparently, it wasn’t large enough).

    The grid failed, the diesel generators failed, the batteries inevitably drained, and all hell broke loose. The Hydrogen Recombiners didn’t get power and as a result the two Secondary Containment Buildings were destroyed by the subsequent explosions from the buildup of hydrogen gas. The Primary Containments, though intact for the moment even with the explosions, are at the mercy of the fuel rods that are in meltdown with cores lacking sufficient coolant.

    Since the 1979 Three Mile Island incident, not one new nuclear power plant has been built in the United States. And it looks like the prospects for a new one in the future are grim, indeed.

  193. Hoser says:

    mkelly says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:18 am
    Let’s see it was hydrogen explosions that blew the roof off both buildings so we should now eschew this as a possible fuel for vehicles. No fuel cell tech, possible explosions.

    _______________________

    Huh? Ever seen a fuel-air explosion? Then you should be very afraid of gasoline.

    Hydrogen also needs an oxidizer to explode. LH2 should work nicely in vehicles, except the volume required is a little bit of a problem. One kg of H2 is the energy equivalent of 1 gal of gasoline. It’s just that 1 kg of LH2 takes 4 gal of volume. On the positive side, the mass is quite low for that volume. 1 gal of gasoline is about 2.7 kg. The Chevy Volt battery pack weighs 400 lbs (182 kg), and a Prius has a 68 kg battery pack. A key to development in LH2 usage is reducing the weight of the LH2 container. These goals are being achieved.

  194. Jordan says:

    To roger. Thanks for the advice to “open my mind, exorcise my daemons, confront the realities that inevitably happen in life, and above all, learn.”

    This post adopts a crude death count as some kind of proxy for suffering. This is unacceptable as it is disrespectful and rather callous.

    What about parents, dependents and friends who lost a loved one – does the crude death count reflect that suffering?

    UN: “About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident’s contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however, the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99 per cent. ”

    UN: “The Forum report calls for continued close monitoring of workers who recovered from Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) and other highly exposed emergency personnel. The Report also calls for focused screening of children exposed to radioiodine for thyroid cancer and highly exposed clean-up workers for non-thyroid cancers. ”

    For some, the (ahem) “realities of life” now include a medical history with cancer from a very early age. Or a life in the shadow of cancer and with the constant reminder of extra monitoring. Where does this show up in the death count?

    UN: “Stress symptoms, depression, anxiety and medically unexplained physical symptoms have been reported, including self-perceived poor health. The designation of the affected population as “victims” rather than “survivors” has led them to perceive themselves as helpless, weak and lacking control over their future. This, in turn, has led either to over cautious behaviour and exaggerated health concerns, or to reckless conduct, such as consumption of mushrooms, berries and game from areas still designated as highly contaminated, overuse of alcohol and tobacco, and unprotected promiscuous sexual activity.”

    None of that reflected in the above choice of death count.

    What do we do roger – jump up out of our comfy armchairs and tell them to “exorcise their daemons”? I don’t think so.

    This post does nothing for the generally good and well informed debate on WUWT. It is overly simplistic at best, and smacks of a callous and insensitive attitude to the full spectrum of suffering.

    This is a site where we often call people to have the courage to admit when they get things wrong.

    As you say: “above all, learn”

    WUWT would be better without this post.

    Thanks.

  195. George E. Smith says:

    Well according to the San Jose Mercury News (front Page yet) “The second hydrogen explosion (in three days) “rocked….. sending a massive column of smoke into the air…..

    Wow ! alchemy right in front of our very eyes. You take steam containing some small amount of Hydrogen, and you vent it to the atmosphere, where it doesn’t react with the nitorgen or the Argon in the atmosphere, but does react with the Oxygen in the air, so you get a massive hydrogen explosion; AND SMOKE !! how cool is that; organic materials conjured up out of a slightly radioactive steam cloud now containing even more steam.

    Hey let that sucker blow every hour on the hour. We used to have hydrogen explosions in our building all the time, when a little hydrogen carrier gas leak got loose in the rafters, and eventually hit somebody’s light switch spark. The little hydrogen boomettes, weren’t the problem; the slight trace amounts of Phosphine or Arsine were the problem; but both of those were also pyrophoric, and went poof, and that time we did get smoke.

    But smoke from a hydrogen explosion; that has to be a first.
    The head line says “Japan in chaos as death’s soar.” Well yes I am sure that deaths are soaring, and I really feel for the Japanese people in this disaster; which certainly is chaotic; but I am sure there is more chaos in Washington DC and the Casa Blanca, than there is in Japan.

    Let them keep venting the hydrogen laced steam and let that blow steam smoke rings till the cows come home. Hey I remember the very first hydrogen explosion, I ever saw, in a chemistry class, shortly after the teacher had finished electrolysing enough water to make a few ccs of a perfect stoichiometric mixture of Hydrogen and Oxygen, that he could light a match to.

    With news like the san jose mercury news, we don’t need any fiction writers.

  196. wayne says:

    mkelly says: March 14, 2011 at 8:18 am
    Let’s see it was hydrogen explosions that blew the roof off both buildings so we should now eschew this as a possible fuel for vehicles. No fuel cell tech, possible explosions.

    You are exactly right. H2 is just like natural gas and can, and regularly does, level homes each year. In the future it would just take a car in a garage and one small leak. Nuclear power has never killed so many and it is from nuclear plants where our electricity should come from, especially if it is electricity that is going to power our cars. But, gasoline still remains the best without taking the food from our mouths as ethanol does.

  197. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Charles S. Opalek, PE says:
    March 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm
    Nuclear power plants are designed with incredible attention to detail by thousands of highly trained and educated professionals, following the strictest guidelines, using the finest materials and components available, with primary containments capable of withstanding the impact of a utility pole travelling axially at 300 mph, with redundancy upon redundancy upon redundancy. And yet the unthinkable happened at Fukashima, a site supposedly designed to resist earthquakes prevalent in the area. (Makes you wonder what seismic criteria was used in the design. Apparently, it wasn’t large enough). “””””

    Well strange thing; all the stuff that fell down during the quake, and all the stuff that got washed away in the follow up tsunami; and in the midst of all that devastation; I didn’t see ANY nuclear power stations either falling down or getting washed away. It seems like they survived ok. Now in order to cool down a reactor core, you need to keep supplying power to the cooling system pumps. Not to worry; this is a nuclear POWER plant. Oops !! the worry warts put in a “precautionary principle” power shut down provision to ensure you wouldn’t have any power to keep cooling the core. How cool is that, the plant shut itself down just as it was designed to do, and it is still there and didn’t was a way. Maybe the worry warts, can form a bucket brigade, and keep supplying that thing with soem cooling water, till the temperature comes down a bit. Meanwhile let her blow a few smoke rings every now and then.

  198. Taphonomic says:

    Charles S. Opalek, PE says:
    “(Makes you wonder what seismic criteria was used in the design. Apparently, it wasn’t large enough).”

    The tsunami is what is causing most of the problems.

    The reactors shutdown after the earthquake. Cooling systems began removing residual heat. The earthquake also cutoff offsite power to the plant. Onsite emergency diesel generators started powering emergency cooling.

    Later, the tsunami struck and took out the diesel generators. Batteries took over to provide power for cooling, but they ran out and additional backup generators could not be obtained quickly enough to prevent overheating of the core. Portable generators have been obtained to power pumps to inject seawater into the reactor and primary containment.

  199. wayne says:

    Ryan says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    To those who still believe nuclear power is safe. What we know is this much. Two nuclear plants in Japan have exploded and we are now finding out that over 10,000 Japanese are dead and billions of dollars in property has been irretrievably ruined. So put that in your flue pipe and smoke it!

    ————————————————————-

    That’s a bald-faced lie Ryan.

    There have been NO deaths to the populous from these reactors to date. The deaths were from the earthquake and seawater. And the entire plants did not explode as you imply. The roofs were blown off of the building with no damage to the reactors.

    Retract your statement if you have any honesty in you. Immediately!

  200. 1DandyTroll says:

    Ryan says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:57 am
    “To those who still believe nuclear power is safe. What we know is this much. Two nuclear plants in Japan have exploded and we are now finding out that over 10,000 Japanese are dead and billions of dollars in property has been irretrievably ruined.”

    My dear Mr Ryan,

    During the course of three days Japanese nuclear facilities still stand erect, albeit a bit scathe, but still pretty proud, even though it’s been shacking in its foundations from a 9.0 earth quake, plus about one hundred earth quakes stronger ‘an 5, plus, not to forget one massive tsunami and several large tsunamis and some waves.

    Is nuclear power safe?

    Well yes my good sir, it delivers reliable electrical power whilst not down for maintenance, compared to say ugly wind driven propellers, although I concede you might be talking about if nuclear power plants are safe, right?

    Compared to equivalent propeller crap, which comes down to about, (1×460 MW + 2×784 MW) divided by 2.5 MW, 812, which would only be of installed capacity so about 2500 (and I’m being nice.)

    How many earth quakes would 2500 2.5MW wind mills be able to handle during three days? Can the structural integrity handle a 9? How about 25 earth quake of 6 in two days? How about with the combined forces of multiple tsunamis?

    So, nuclear power plants in Japan, are apparently very safe, all things considered.

  201. Dave Andrews says:

    Henry P,

    The US tested in Nevada, the UK in Maralinga, Australia, and only France in the Pacific at Muroroa.

    So you are quite correct when you say there is no link between these tests and the earthquake ( even though that was not what you were trying to imply).

  202. guscost says:

    I wrote what I hope is a simple-to-understand explanation of the differences and why Chernobyl is a bad choice for a comparison.

    http://guscost.com/2011/03/14/science-nuclear-meltdowns/

  203. Peter Taylor says:

    Mr Goodrich – the term ‘hysterical nonsense’ is uncalled for. Perhaps you have not studied the subject at any length.

    The British public knew first of the potential land contamination consequences of a major aerial release about three years before Chernobyl – I know that because my research group published the first assessments at the Sizewell Inquiry in 1983 – using the EU’s own computer models. Few took much notice until Chernobyl made it all real – the self sacrifice of emergency services trying to control the release, the evacuation, and the long term contamination. If you suggest this cannot happen in ‘well designed’ reactors, you have obviously never read ‘licensee event reports’ (they are not readily available) – accounts of all the times something really serious has gone wrong at ‘western’ nuclear installations and how close things
    came (TMI did come very close to having the secondary containment breached – I suggest you read up on the technical details).

    Many European reactors do not have secondary containment – as evidently these Japanese designs do not. Britain is still running gas-cooled reactors without secondary containment.

    The explosions in the Japanese plants have arisen because when water is irradiated and not adequately circulated, it generates hydrogen. The explosions will have damaged a great deal of the control structure – and although reports suggest the steel pressure vessel is intact, which is good news, the crucial issue is whether the water can be circulated – because that steel is surrounded by concrete as a radiation shield, and that means little heat escapes – the fuel even after shut-down, generates several megawatts of heat and this will boil the water – once uncovered, the fuel in the centre of the core will melt and reach 2000 C, go through the steel and vapourise the concrete – the most dangerous consequence is not the molten uranium but the volatile caesium and iodine (among about 60 nuclides) which will volatilise at lower temperatures – and the pressure and any further explosions will cause venting and a massive aerial release – caesium-137 is extremely hard to remove from urban areas and cropland and emits a hard gamma radiation that will endanger all emergency personnel. Many emergency plans assume that no major release will happen and thus emergency services will not know the risks they are taking if there has been a breach of containment – until their monitors tell them, which is then too late.

    Even a secondary containment, as at TMI, can be breached if the explosions are powerful enough – so very few reactors are ‘safe’ in that respect – all that keeps them so is the quality of engineering, manufacture, maintenance and dedication to procedure that fortunately, the industry has a good record of…..except when it has not, and that information is not so readily available to the public. Many older reactors in Europe would not be licensed today because standards have become tighter.

    I spent over twenty years analysing nuclear risks (my colleagues persuaded the regional government of Lower Saxony not to license a high-level waste storage plant – and in the words of their safety minister ‘if we had had such a plant operating during the Second World War, central Europe would not now be habitable.’

    The technology is unforgiving: it relies on a functional society. If we took a Carrington type hit tomorrow (solar magnetic pulse), nuclear reactors and waste storage would be of grave concern – just as they are now in Japan. The same would be true of a terrorist or rogue state EMP weapon (talk to the military about how highly they rate that risk).

    It seems that many on this blogsite are in denial of the risks of their favoured technology to fill the ‘energy gap’. That is a shame. And rather than derision, a little time doing some research would be time better spent.

  204. Schadow says:

    Dave Andrews says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm
    Henry P,

    The US tested in Nevada, the UK in Maralinga, Australia, and only France in the Pacific at Muroroa.

    Not correct. The US tested fusion weapons extensively in the Pacific, at Eniwetok Atoll and other sites.

  205. Doug Badgero says:

    Peter Taylor,

    I have worked in nuclear power for 25+ years. Your diatribe has many mistakes, I will correct only a couple:

    Every licensee event report (for the USA) is available at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/en.html

    TMI’s reactor vessel did not come close to failure let alone its containment.

  206. Dan in California says:

    KLA says: March 14, 2011 at 8:18 am
    An article by Zbigniew Jarowski, former chairman of UNSCEAR, the UN body that studied the health effects of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl:
    http://www.ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/cherno-zbigniew_fear-06.htm
    —————————————–
    An excerpt from that article says:

    “data collected by UNSCEAR and the Forum show 15% to 30% fewer cancer deaths among the Chernobyl emergency workers and about 5% lower solid cancer incidence among the people in the Bryansk district (the most contaminated in Russia) in comparison with the general population. In most irradiated group of these people (mean dose of 40 mSv) the deficit of cancer incidence was 17%.”

    This is saying that the cancer rate around Chernobyl is LESS THAN the cancer rate of the control group. In other words, a little bit of long term radiation seems to be health beneficial, as is seen in high background radiation areas all over the world.

  207. Theo Goodwin says:

    Peter Taylor says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    “It seems that many on this blogsite are in denial of the risks of their favoured technology to fill the ‘energy gap’. That is a shame. And rather than derision, a little time doing some research would be time better spent.”

    The only comment about these reactors that is necessary is that they were built at an unacceptable site. Siting is the whole issue in this particular case. All the comments about other matters are absolutely unnecessary. The media cannot focus on the issue to save their lives. Neither can many others.

  208. Lady Life Grows says:

    The effect is greatest in the very young. Ernest Sternglass found an increase of 57 deaths in neonatal mortality and 63 in upstate New York. His research showed clearly that miscarriages would have been several times higher.

    He also found something all too familiar to this group–government coverup and alteration of health statistics to hide the effects.

    These would be immediate deaths. There would also be some increase in childhood cancers four years later.

    Even this cost would be tolerable in the scheme of this were it not for another of Sternglass’ findings: IQ drops of a few points in the survivors. Not an enormous amount, you understand, but the effect is greatest in the highest IQs. If you were born after 1945, you have a point or a few points less IQ because of subtle thyroid damage in the womb, depending just where you were gestated and when.

    What does it mean to a nation to have half as many people scoring at 700 on SAT verbal?

  209. Lady Life Grows says:

    Those wanting detailed data on 3 mile Isle can find it in a free dowbnload of Sternglass’ book Secret Fallout

    http://www.ratical.org/radiation/SecretFallout/

  210. Smokey says:

    Lady Life Grows says:

    “What does it mean to a nation to have half as many people scoring at 700 on SAT verbal?”

    That they were educated in the California school system?☺

  211. @Peter Taylor again:

    Mr Goodrich – the term ‘hysterical nonsense’ is uncalled for.

    Actually, I called it “hysterical rubbish”, but I’ll settle for “hysterical nonsense” if you prefer.

    Due to my employment at the time, I was privileged to read the entire Met-Ed technical “lessons learned” report on the TMI incident. To say that the melting core will reach 2000 deg C is simply silly.

    Peddle this stuff to Jane Fonda and fear-mongering EU bureaucrats. I stand by my characterization, in either version. I do not find it particularly convincing that you have been promulgating hysterical rubbish for thirty years, though it does give me some appreciation for your persistence.

  212. David says:

    regarding AndyW35 says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:20 am
    David said
    March 14, 2011 at 4:19 am
    “In the last decade nuclear has been 265 times safer then wind energy on a energy produced verses fatal accidents basis.”

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf / Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 December 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents
    http://www.energyliteracy.com/?p=310 (see pie chart, 8% nuclear, .3% wind)

    Andy “That’s taken from a source that is against wind turbines so I am not sure how much credence you should give it. If the figure is accurate then fine…”

    Andy, I have no reason to doubt it, but am willing to listen if you have something more then a question of their motive.

    In the last decade nuclear has been 265 times safer then wind energy on a energy produced verses fatal accidents basis.

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf / Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 31 December 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_and_radiation_accidents
    http://www.energyliteracy.com/?p=310 (see pie chart, 8% nuclear, .3% wind)

  213. David says:

    David says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:52 am
    How many accidents have there been worldwide with wind turbines, since they started being used in earnest..?
    One..?
    Ten..?
    A hundred..??
    Answer: 933.
    How many fatalities..?
    None..?
    One..?
    Ten..?
    Answer: 73.
    (There’ll be many more when maintaining offshore farms becomes an ongoing situation, I reckon..)
    Makes nuclear power’s record look pretty good, really…

    And over the last ten years nuclear has produced at least 30 times, and more likely 50 times as much energy.

  214. David says:

    RE. Mark Bowlin says:
    March 14, 2011 at 6:24 am
    David says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:52 am
    How many accidents have there been worldwide with wind turbines, since they started being used in earnest..?……Makes nuclear power’s record look pretty good, really…”

    Don’t you think you’re comparing apples to oranges here? The TMI and Chernobyl figures refer to a specific type of casualty, i.e., nuclear-related injury/death resulting from two specific events.
    I’m sure many more people were injured during the construction of those facilities or in the day to day operations. There’s no real analogy with wind power unless you want to compare, say, those sliced in half by the blades.”

    Mark, there were no deaths at TMI. The wick nuke stats include all day to day operations.
    Also, do not forget that from 2000 to 2010 nuclear generated at least 30, and probably 50 times the energy.

  215. 1DandyTroll says:

    @Peter Taylor

    1. The Chernobyl accident happened when the reactor was running at full capacity unlike in Japan where the nuclear process had been stopped due to earth quake.

    2. The Chernobyl design was, and will always be considered to be (due to obvious disadvantages in security) of inferior design.

    3. Chernobyl was run by drunken personal managing a power plant which security features wasn’t up to par by a long shot.

    4. People went back to farm the land in and around Chernobyl a long time ago.

    5. So far there hasn’t been any more people dying from “Chernobyl” ‘an have been from US nuclear weapons testing during 30 years in California.

    6. There was civilians who survived both of the atomic bombs in Japan during WWII who lived to a ripe old age of over 75.

    7. Observation has it, that Japanese people rebuilt Nagasaki and Hiroshima and assumed to live in the newly built cities pretty much as soon as the cloud cleared, “weaponized radioactive” and what not didn’t hinder ‘em at all. They survived two a-bombs and the ensuing “weaponized” radioactive down fall, and rebuilt. Of course that might be a chock to the hordes of crazed climate hysterical hippies who probably would just have run around screaming until they all bloody croaked.

    8. The average citizen of Japan is probably more of a practical expert on every thing on every potential looming Japanese disaster ‘an any hysterical theoretical expert from the west. So if they don’t flee en mass to North Korea but stay to rebuild, why should even the hysterical and overly anxious people of the western world worry?

  216. Wondering Aloud says:

    Does it bother you Ryan in your safety concerns tthat the ten thousand dead in Japan are in no way the result of the nuclear plant problems? Troll on back to where ever you were. I am more convinsed than ever of the safety of even those nuclear plants as any rational person would be.

  217. Schadow says:

    Poster “beng”, somewhere above, spoke of the radiological safety measures taken at Nevada Test Site during above-ground nuclear weapons testing.

    As a US Army officer, I and several other officers went out toward GZ after shots and provided escort for several battalions of Marine and Army troops as they maneuvered post-detonation. We had to look (with Geiger counters) for “hot” items flung out from the detonation, such as guy-wire turnbuckles and other attractive souvenirs and mark them so the guys wouldn’t pocket them and ensure future sterility.

    We all took the detonations in trenches at about 5000 yd. from GZ and took off on maneuver after the flash, ground wave and neutron flux had abated. This particular series was called “Upshot-Knothole” and was conducted in Spring, 1953. There were 11 shots, yielding from 16 to 61 kilotons. There were as I remember, three air drops and one firing of the 280 mm artillery rifle. The rest were tower shots, one of which was “Grable” whose yield was about a third higher than predicted. It was a stunner, to be sure.

    Much dust was generated and contained radioactive particles. When maneuvers were over, the troops were decontaminated, checked for souvenirs, and returned to base. The film badges were collected and read, and the records stored.

    There began almost immediately and continuing through the years, claims from the soldiers about cancers and other ailments which they blamed on radiation received during their time at the test sites. Sometime in the nineties, the Department of Defense did a large statistical study of the complaints from the soldiers vs. similar ailments arising in the general population of the US. The first results showed that there were fewer incidents among the soldiers than in the general population. When the “healthy soldier” factor was applied, there was no statistical difference in the two populations. The “healthy soldier” concept holds that the mere fact that soldiers, having received health screenings before becoming soldiers were, in fact, healthier than the general population to begin with.

    In spite of all the really big bangs and slogging about the desert, most of the participants received less than one REM of whole-body gamma radiation. I and my compatriots in the radsafe community for “Upshot-Knothole” received about 5 REM and were given clean bills. I’m now 81 and my wife swears that I don’t glow in the dark.

    My point is all this blather is to attempt to put some reality back into the unnatural hysteria which has grown up over the years regarding the effects of exposure to any ionizing radiation. True, there are situations where it can be truly dangerous. But to go into a national panic over a couple of helicopters flying through a radioactive “cloud” is the province of the uninformed.

  218. Doug Allen says:

    NHK news conference minutes ago reported that recent explosion reactor #2 probably caused damage to containment; internal pressure is down and radiation levels are up. They are evacuating most workers.
    It’s sad that climate skepticism or dislike of MSM (or is it something else?) seems to have infected the reasonableness of many who here have been comparing the ongoing crisis to bananas and trivializing the possible tragic consequences for two days now.

  219. Billy Liar says:

    Peter Taylor says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    So you’re just an anti-nuclear campaigner dressed up as a consultant.

    You won’t have much trouble frightening ‘Call Me Dave’ and the Lib-Dims. They will have no idea what you’re talking about but you will undoubtedly have explained to them that the correct response is to use your treasured ‘Precautionary Principle’.

  220. Wondering Aloud says:

    I am also convinced that I can’t type.

  221. Theo Goodwin says:

    I have a compromise. In Blue States, all power generation will come from solar, wind, geothermal and other Green sources. In Red States, all power generation will come from fossil fuels, including coal, and nuclear. Red States will promise to sell power to Blue States at a reasonable price forever and ever. However, Blue States must pay for the power grid used to import power from Red States. Also, Red States will sell fossil fuels to private citizens in Blue States for private use only. Blue States will be permitted to limit the amount of fossil fuels purchased by private citizens and to levy taxes on fossil fuels. Blue States will be forbidden from building walls designed to prevent citizens from leaving.

    Citizens of Red States will be permitted to make personal investments in solar, geothermal, and similar sources but not those darn ugly, noisy, intimidating windmills. In Blue States, private citizens but not businesses will be permitted to provide their own backup power through use of generators burning fossil fuels; but only for backup.

    All power generating stations in Red States will be sited so that prevailing winds do not carry into a Blue State. No Blue State will be permitted to erect a windmill that is visible from a Red State. Blue States will be legally responsible for all earthquakes in Red States caused by geothermal projects. Blue States will be legally responsible for any harm caused by tapping into the millions of degrees of heat just beneath the surface that Al Gore discovered.

    In the event that, through democratic processes, a Blue State changes to a Red State, the new Red State may erect a grid and purchase all its energy from surrounding Red States. Citizens will be compensated for windmills at market value. If a Red State changes to a Blue State, the new Blue State may require private citizens to purchase hardware necessary for “Blue” energy production. In the case that a new Blue State and a new Red State are contiguous, the two states may hold a grand plebiscite and citizens may elect to move to the other state.

  222. Alex Heyworth says:

    I suppose the Jeremiahs and Cassandras will always be with us, but for those of us with functioning brains, it all comes down to a calculation of risk, cost and need. Japan, and many other nations, need nuclear power. Japan needs a lot of it. For their government, it is a simple calculation of risk vs cost. They were advised some time ago that their older nuclear plants were not built to withstand earthquakes of this strength, but they apparently decided the cost of doing something about it was too great. Oddly, they have spent large sums recently modifying the foundations of large buildings to improve their resistance to earthquakes. Probably after this incident they will improve the resistance of their nuclear reactors.

    What is perhaps the most notable aspect of the incident is that the containment vessel appears not to have been breached, hence no significant radiation leakage. The Japanese authorities have correctly and cautiously evacuated the surrounding areas, but it seems likely that people will return soon.

  223. roger samson says:

    yes i agree with doug allen , sometimes when the fire alarm is pulled there actually is a FIRE! In this case we have 3 three mile islands on the go at once.

  224. Hamish Grant says:

    Re: Potential….

    – After 9/11, construction of buildings higher than 6 stories (how high is the Pentagon?) should have been banned.
    – After the 1st Comet crash, the development of passenger jet aircraft should have been halted.
    – After the first coal mine disaster where more than (say) 10 people died, underground coal mining should have been abandoned.
    – After the first major earthquake in Japan which caused severe damage & loss of life, the entire population should have sought a homeland in a geological stable location.

    The late Michael Chrichton in his last novel “State of Fear” presciently described how mankind is slowly degenerating from the pinacle of our achievements over sevaral millenia into the depths of fear & guilt – driven by obsession with the “potential” risks with every aspect of our existence.

  225. Claude Harvey says:

    Re:Alex Heyworth says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    “I suppose the Jeremiahs and Cassandras will always be with us, but for those of us with functioning brains…. What is perhaps the most notable aspect of the incident is that the containment vessel appears not to have been breached, hence no significant radiation leakage.”

    Got news for ya’, Sunshine. As of tonight, we’ve had a third explosion, radiation levels have spiked and the “water-in-steam-out” calculation for one of the containment vessels no longer computes. That last one would indicate that structural integrity of the pressure vessel/suppression torus combination may have been breached. Should that prove to be the case you can stand by for some really, really bad news. Let us hope and pray that is NOT the case.

  226. Theo Goodwin says:

    Doug Allen says:
    March 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    “It’s sad that climate skepticism or dislike of MSM (or is it something else?) seems to have infected the reasonableness of many who here have been comparing the ongoing crisis to bananas and trivializing the possible tragic consequences for two days now.”

    We have the power to focus and we use it. Greenies do not have that power. Focusing on the tragedy in Japan, we see vast devastation. However, we also see that many Greenies are doing everything they can to put the focus on the nuclear facilities and screaming that this shows that nuclear is dead. Having the power to focus, we see that the only thing about nuclear that can be inferred from this event is that the station was built in the wrong place. To condemn the entire industry because one nuclear facility was built in the wrong place is preposterous. No one expects a nuclear facility to survive a tsunami that devastated an entire region and prevented all forms of relief from reaching the troubled reactor. By the way, people who have trouble focusing are highly prone to hysteria.

  227. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Doug Allen on March 14, 2011 at 5:10 pm:

    It’s sad that climate skepticism or dislike of MSM (or is it something else?) seems to have infected the reasonableness of many who here have been comparing the ongoing crisis to bananas and trivializing the possible tragic consequences for two days now.

    We have a lot of hard-nosed pragmatists on this site, including a fair share of previous (C)AGW believers, who have learned to eschew alarmism of any sort. Sure, we can accept disaster preparedness, disasters happen. But as a general rule we’ve seen validated again and again, take the worst that the media and their chosen experts say a situation will be, and it won’t be that bad, usually falls far short.

    Just look at what happened. We’ve been told there will be monumental worldwide disasters and disruptions from a small rise in concentration of a trace atmospheric gas. Yet in minutes this planet, the dear Mother Gaia we’ve been taught to love and care for and basically worship, did more damage to Japan than global warming ever will.

    The majority of the people on this planet live in poverty, caused and/or exacerbated by energy poverty. We need nuclear power, for now and for the long term, to provide the energy needed to help those people. The benefits far outweigh the risks, especially with the modern reactor designs, and once again we are seeing, as bad as this looks, that the results are not as bad as the media says it could be.

  228. Dave Springer says:

    “Take a look at these headlines from the Christian Science Monitor and from Channel News Asia,”

    No thanks. There’s more than enough trash unprofessional free of cost journalism to wade through without purposely exposing oneself to even more of it. Sometimes free news is worth less than it costs. Decent filters are available that weed out the trash for you. WUWT is usually one of them. The Drudge Report is another and news.google.com ain’t bad either.

    The fallout (pun intended) from this nuclear fiasco is yet to be determined but three reactor buildings blowing up, Japanese government and the owner admitting to at least partial meltdown of fuel rods, evacuating 500,000 people from the vicinity, handing out iodine pills, pumping seawater and boron onto the nuclear piles in a last ditch attempt to avoid a radiation plume that could spread halfway around the world, these are all hard cold facts at the moment. The only question at this point is how much worse it can get and according to the nuclear power cheerleaders it couldn’t get this far so you’ll excuse me if I don’t trust nuclear power cheerleaders much at this point in time. Save your breath and wait for the facts like the rest of us. Going into PR damage control mode dumping criticism on equal but opposite news spinners is as transparent and desperate as pumping seawater into a nuclear reactor. Man up and take your lumps for betting on a lame horse.

  229. 1DandyTroll says:

    @roger samson

    “yes i agree with doug allen , sometimes when the fire alarm is pulled there actually is a FIRE! In this case we have 3 three mile islands on the go at once.”

    Just because there’s 10 fire alarms for ten different people to pull at once doesn’t mean there’ll be ten different fires just because ten people pull them ten different fire alarms at once.

  230. Dave Springer says:

    David says:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Don’t you think you’re comparing apples to oranges here? The TMI and Chernobyl figures refer to a specific type of casualty, i.e., nuclear-related injury/death resulting from two specific events.

    I’m sure many more people were injured during the construction of those facilities or in the day to day operations.

    Here’s where the skeletons (pun intended) are hidden:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=&q=uranium+mining+hazards&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS290US290&ie=UTF-8

  231. Jon Shively says:

    Many intersting coments some of which reflect a lack of knowledge about nuclear reactors. However, the MSM has chosen to focus on the problems at the three Japanese reactors to build the case that our reactors are unsafe. Somehow most people seem to think that the reactor is a potential atom bomb ready to exploade at any incident at a reactor reported as a failure. Or that everyone will die a horrible death from one micrcurie of radiation. However, the real issue for the US may be an earthquake of the magintude experienced in Japan in a highly populated area. The MSM should be asking how will we respond to a catastrope of a similar magnitude? Are we as prepared as the Japanese were? Secondly we should be focussed on ways to help them deal with the crisis. It seems that a disaster that hasn’t happened is more important than what we can do about the current disaster. Maybe it is easier to scare people about something that might happen than it is to focus the lessons we can learn from the current elements of the earthquake and the associated wave of water. The Japanese are to be commended for their discipline in the face of disaster. The people are not waiting for the government to come and save them. Would we do the same? What do you think?

  232. Dave Springer says:

    “How many were killed by the Three Mile Island incident?”

    Are we counting dreams of cheap clean energy as among the casualties?

    In that case I think the death count is probably a billion so.

    See, when you say “this can’t happen” or “this type of accident is sooooo unlikely” then it does, not once but twice and now five times… well it’s sort of like the reservior I live on. When it was impounded in the 1930’s the engineers told people the “100 year flood plane” is 691 ASL so people built homes at 692 feet ASL, banks lent them money to build, and insurers sold them insurance. Well sir, there have been ten “100 year” floods in the past 80 years. The flood plane was raised about 20 years ago to 715′ ASL. It hasn’t yet exceeded that but it’s been over 700′ three times in the last 20 years and above 710′ one of those times. Just last year the so-called “100 year flood plane” was raised to 722′ ASL.

    Nuclear power plants are looking just like those “100 year flood planes” that are inundated every 10 years. Are you really prepared to blame people for feeling like they were lied to and being distrustful of safety claims for “new and improved” reactor designs? The old ones were supposed to be failsafe and they weren’t.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  233. ChrisM says:

    I think the case of the portable generators with the wrong plugs could be another MSM mis-reporting.
    From memory, isn’t eastern Japan 50Hz and western 60Hz with a couple of big AC/DC/AC interconnectors linking the grids? There may even be different intermediate voltages in their generation networks as well. If that frequency difference is the case, then bringing generators from the Western side (or the US) would be no good as the pumps would spin too fast and burn out the motors from overloading?

  234. Claude Harvey says:

    Re:Dave Springer says:
    March 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    “Man up and take your lumps for betting on a lame horse.”

    Amen, Brother Dave. Participating in these exchanges has been a revelation in how “agendas” can cloud human judgment. I’ve designed BWR plants such as those in question. I have built and promoted nuclear, hydro and fossil-fired energy power plants. I’ve designed, owned and operated renewable energy plants. I have on numerous occasions on this site argued against the pitiful economics of most of the renewable technologies. I am a firm skeptic of manmade global warming.

    However, how anyone can watch the comedy of errors and design shortcomings that surround the Japanese nuclear experience and not understand that, in the public mind, the promises that were made about nuclear plant safety will forever be held up to ridicule is simply beyond me. The perception of downside risk is simply too steep to be balanced by any claimed benefit, so long as other options are available. Three Mile Island killed new nuclear plant development in the U.S. for four decades. The Japanese experience will kill it for many more decades to come. Among other impediments will be insurance considerations and re-examination of current U.S. limitations of liability for nuclear plant owners.

    That horse is dead on arrival. Period!

  235. AndyW35 says:

    David said:
    March 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    ————————–
    Andy “That’s taken from a source that is against wind turbines so I am not sure how much credence you should give it. If the figure is accurate then fine…”
    ————————-

    Andy, I have no reason to doubt it, but am willing to listen if you have something more then a question of their motive.

    I did have more, I mentioned that although they mentioned those figures the reason that they are objecting to the wind turbines is not how dangerous they are but because of how they look, ie visual pollution. So even they do not care about it apart from an en extra string to their bow to win their argument.

    As I also mentioned, and as you didn’t want to answer, then main concern about safety in regards to power production up there is nuclear particles washing up on beaches.

    I think you need a better source for your figures, something more neutral and more scientific.

    Andy

  236. wayne says:

    Just heard on nhk-world-tv that power and pumps are back on to all four reactors located on the Pacific beach, temperatures are now down, all hydrogen fires out, and if this ends up being all that this most increadible 1000 year natural disaster along with 4 story tsunami with nothing more that mild exposure of a few power workers and no deaths…. bring the reactors on to get rid of CAGW proponents enemy CO2… the more the merrier. I wasn’t two weeks ago but I am now totally sold on reactor safety. They passed the ultimate test, four times over.

    [good news indeed]

  237. LUC DE WAEN says:

    SANDY,,,allow me to correct you on Thjernobyl deadly victems..

    about 150.000 to 200.000 people in europe HAVE allready died from severe cancer due to the radiatonlevels after Tjernobyll……
    the rice in cancers,,about 15 to 20 years after the meltdown….corrolates with the time for the cancers to develope after overdosos..radiation..

    and then count the people not dead from the radioton..but living and fighting against their cancer..

    look at the rising numbers in larynxcancer,,,,skincancer..and look at the timeline.
    follow the white rabbit

  238. Volt Aire says:

    Radiation causes cancer. More radiation causes higher probability of cancer. Chernobyl and Fukushima have caused / will cause elevated radiation levels on vast areas and in many foodchains. Thus there will be more cancer in the effected areas even though those cancers will not effect everyone and the ones caused by the fallout will not ever be distinquishable from those caused by radon, cosmic rays, food or other.

    There seem to be 3 main reply types here:
    1. MSM is exaggarating this / politics are being played against nuclear unfairly – Well, this is to be expeted and seems like there are areas of improvement in nuclear safety. Building reactors in tectonic plate edges with backup diesels onsite in tsunami reach seems to be a bad idea.

    2. Because radiation does not kill everyone above a certain dosage, it does not cause deaths at all / 99% of cancers are curable. – See beginning of my post and please consider that those 99% of thyroid cancer victims will need medication for the rest of their lives. Mutations, down syndrome percentage etc are also reliant on radiation and seem not to be considered very muh in the replies.

    3. There is something even more deadly, worse, widespread, overlooked like (insert any energy source from above replies). – There sure are. This problem with Japan does not need to be dealiest in human history to be rightfully headline news the world over. Since about 150.000 people die every day I suppose we shouln’t even report such minor incidents if we went the relativistic route here.

    I do agree that it is really bad taste to play politics bout this issue yet, disaster should be solved &analyzed first and then preventive remedies discussed. This is going to be a big blow to cAGW coal battle since forcing 3rd tier countries into renewables (form coal) while industrial countries have relied on a future of nuclar with a whiff of renewables (for maximum energy cost difference and thus upper hand in global manufacturing) is at stake here. If nuclear is to be dumped, europe and US are going to have a very very hard time recovering and this is why there is really no problem for us nuclear proponents – realpolitik dictates our future with nuclear, still the safest and most cost efective source of (usually) clean energy. I still think that this is a catastrophe and rightfully there should be corrections. And the artcle linked here is in REALLY BAD taste.

    [try turning on your spell check and read before you hit post . . thanks]

  239. AndyW35 says:

    Wayne said

    “They passed the ultimate test, four times over.”

    Also comments on mild exposure of a few power workers and that he is completely sold on reactor safety. I’ve seen other comments on here about it the same vein, with some people going as far as being nuclears finest hour.

    The facts are that out of 6 reactors, 3 have caused explosions injuring multiple workers, one has caught fire. 4 of them have to a greater or lesser extent released radiation, 150 000 plus people have had to leave their homes and lets face it powers not going to be producing power in those reactors ever again, it will just be a drain on resources cleaning them up when it could be better spent elsewhere. Even the stock market has gone down more due to the added uncertainty.

    I don’t mind nuclear but some people on here are filtering out facts so they can convince themselves of a happy ending.

    The story is still unfolding, the only thing that can truly be said is that we have some very brave and unselfish workers still attempting to sort it out at the site. I doubt very much Wayne would volunteer to join them even though there is nothing more than mild exposure to worry about.

    Andy

  240. MVB says:

    Thanks AndyW35 and some others for voices of sanity.

    @Leg [March 14, 2011 at 3:40 am @ Volt Aire]

    ” it does appear that overall there has been no increase in cancer” [...from Chernobyl]

    Get real, “Leg”, seriously. Whose are you pulling?

    Underestimatig/denialism is not any better than overestimating/alarmism. In closely-monitored areas, directl related to Chernobyl ultimatelt a 3-4% rise in cancers was reported; + >4000 EXTRA cancer deaths, as well (see WHO reports on it), not to mention the awful misery of forced relocation, the trouble of dealing with cancers (even when cured), the insecurities, etc., and various issues that are very real when you’re experiencing them (ranging from teenage girls having most their hair fall out, to inexplicable chronic fatigue, more headaches, etc.).

    Nuancing radiation levels has its place. Downplaying awful real experiences (“from your armchair sofa”, so to speak) are inexcusable (unless, perhaps you have the actual experience). COs-alarmism should be exposed for the fear-mongering (most-likely-) nonsense it seems. So with radiation-disinfo, and such. But when you start using skewed statistics to promote your agenda, … :-/ You’ll lose the sharp rational folks who’re ‘not heart-death yet’… .

    Let’s just hope this is the final nail for an industry of arrogance, operating in a system that thinks in short-sighted quarter-earnings terms, yet in fact has to face dealing with dangerous wastes for many tens of thousands of years… . Burning oil may be primitive and pulluting, proponents of nuclear energy will become known for their naivité and arrogance… .

    … May all beings on this Eath without exeption
    enjoy peace, happiness and complete prosperity…

  241. Julian Braggins says:

    Although this is probably too early to be discussing this in view of the terrible individual suffering by those affected, can we look at the overall picture?

    Tens of thousands will probably have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami. A few dozen may be killed by the Nuclear Power Plants directly and indirectly.

    Can we learn from mistakes, build better buildings in safer places, better Nuclear Plants in safer places with better safety measures? As the Japanese have already done more so than anyone as far as major buildings are concerned.

    For those who haven’t heard of ” Radiation hormesis” I would recommend it.

    And a query for those who have been involved in nuclear plant design, water injectors were perfected in the 19th century to inject static water into high pressure steam vessels without mechanical or electrical power (using the steam from the boiler). Would these not be useful as a last resort to get water into the containment vessels?

  242. kbray in california says:

    Winds as of 6am GMT in Fukushima, Japan look to be blowing to the Southwest toward Tokyo…

    http://www.wunderground.com/global/Region/i_JP/2xWindSpeed.html

  243. roger samson says:

    i stand corrected there are 4 three mile island like events underway and yes the alarmists including the french government are doing the right thing by telling people to get the hell out of there.

  244. Peter Taylor says:

    In response to Doug Badgero, Billy Liar and Dandy Troll – yes, I spent a long time as an anti-nuclear ‘campaigner’ – with some success. I am an ecologist and social anthropologist by training – and that gives me a rather broader perspective – insights into earth sciences as well as human behaviour and the interactions between the two – something rather lacking in the engineers who designed the first British reactors and high-level waste stores (copied by the French). One member of my team resigned from the Fusion research labs at Culham to work with us deciperhing computer codes for aerial release scenarios – there was a massive cover-up in the UK over the whole issue of meltdown potential and off-site consequences – this was not opened up until 1976 with public inquiries and an independent Royal Commission – but too late because a programme of building began in the 1960s, with a gullible public told that radiatioactivity could not leak out beyond small and insignificant doses. The most work done on this was by Rasmussen and the American Physical Society in the USA, though our designs were gas-cooled and the Brits could claim the revelations of the Rasmussen report did not apply. In fact, our reactors had no secondary containment – which effectively saved Pennsylvania from a massive clean-up problem.

    Our involement as ‘campaigners’ involved press and TV, as well as parliament, and by 1983, we were listened to – I was consulted by the regulatory authorities, the government departments (advisor on waste management strategies and research) and gave lectures at Universities (a nine University tour of Japan in 1982), and contributed to courses at Harwell – the main nuclear research centre in the UK.

    Our responsible campaigning saw changes in emergency planning, discharge control from waste facilities, and the ending of dumping barrels of low-level nuclear waste in the ocean as well as options-off for high level waste in international waters. We ended nuclear ‘reprocessing’ plans in Germany and Sweden and shut down the European fast-breeder programme – an international effort supported by fellow scientists and engineers across Europe. My top engineer – Gordon Thompson – PhD from Oxford – went on to found the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Mass. and has been a lifelong oppononent of nuclear expansion and proponent of alternative energy stategies.

    I have also contributed to the peer-reviewed literature on the risks of low level radiation, land contamination, and monitoring strategies.

    So – I do take some exception to being bad-mouthed as hysterical or the source of diatribe on a site that I regularly contribute to.

    On technical matters – 1979 and TMI is a long time ago – but we were informed the explosions came close to the design capacity of the secondary containment and that the building was full of volatile radioactive fission products such as caesium-137. I no longer have access to those records – but will not accept a simple assurance that this was not so – particularly considering the amount of misinformation characteristic of this industry.

    On technical grounds – those refering to weapons testing – there is a massive difference in the yield of ground contaminating nuclides between weapons (especially air-bursts) and releases from reactor cores – the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered minimal ground contamination. The areas of crop production around Chernobyl have not, to my knowledge, been re-instigated and only a few wizzened old people remain and grow vegetables, much to the consternation of the regulatory bodies as the produce would not be alllowed onto the market. Vast areas of marshland remain off limits and it was onyl recently that sheepmeat was allowed back onto the market in contaminated areas of Britain and Scandinavia.

    I would add that my concerns are not driven by ideology….if a fail-safe reactor system were demonstrated (as claimed for thorium) I would waste my time when there are more urgent problems to deal with (and in any case I do not get involved these days in nuclear issues). I work from facts and data and when renewable energy plans that I had actively supported (I worked for three years also as a government advisor on how to integrate them into landscape and community) I decided to check out the science of ‘global warming’ – largely because the remedy looked more damaging to the things I cared about (both human community and biodiversity) than the illness itself. I changed my mind on reviewing the data and peer-reviewed literature (for which I am very grateful for Anthony’s work!). And I became active – having written a 400-page book that took 3 years of unpaid time (20 five-star reviews on the UK Amazon site but not much take-up in the USA yet!). That act lost me all my friends in the ‘green’ movement…which has become sadly ideological and closed-minded.

    In the course of this research I studied the Sun and its magnetic cycles – and the biggest revelation was that every so often, perfectly naturally and well-recorded in the ice-cores, it puts out massive EMPs that have the capacity to disable not only electrical grids, but whole civilisations dependent upon computers and satellites. Almost every nuclear facility is vulnerable – unless you have confidence in diesel supplies for several months whilst the rest of the country struggles to prevent 90% of its people from dying of thirst (no water in taps) or starving (no food in the shops). And if you think that is alarmist – google the NAS report on solar EMP (Carrington events) of 2008, and it is freely downloadable.

    So much for advanced engineering – with no solar physics and no social anthropology.

    There is more that is not right with our approach to energy and engineering than the squabbles over wind turbines or nuclear safety.

  245. kbray in california says:

    Change the cooling fluid to Liquid Nitrogen.
    That will cool things down.

    What does Zr + N turn into ?
    Hopefully safer than a Hydrogen explosion.

    Dry Ice will work too, but God Forbid,
    it’s made of CO2…

  246. kbray in california says:

    Zr + N Turns into Zirconium Nitride Zr3N4
    A stable molecule.
    Try Liquid Nitrogen…

  247. Glenn says:

    Yes, real scary:

    “A 1997 study by the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island described a worst-case disaster from uncovered spent fuel in a reactor cooling pool. It estimated 100 quick deaths would occur within a range of 500 miles and 138,000 eventual deaths.

    The study also found that land over 2,170 miles would be contaminated and damages would hit $546 billion. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16fuel.html

  248. kbray in california says:

    Dump Dry Ice in the spent fuel cooling pool !
    The problem is too much energy.
    Get rid of the heat.
    It’s not rocket science.

  249. roger samson says:

    Wayne

    If you are totally sold on nuclear then there are some great buying opportunities out there in the market. You have the correct thinking and dont worry about the alarmists on nuclear. Invest everything you have today as this industry is like the asbestos industry a real winner whose time is yet to come.

  250. What the skeptics need to do is to stop fighting and let the Greens have their way, as quickly and expeditiously as possible. (Think “Aikido”.)

    Shut down ALL nuclear. Shut down ALL coal. Shut down ALL oil. Green energy ONLY. That’s what they want, isn’t it? So let them have it.

    I suspect it won’t last very long.

  251. TonyG (formerly just Tony) says: March 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

    What the skeptics need to do is to stop fighting and let the Greens have their way,

    Shut down ALL nuclear. Shut down ALL coal. Shut down ALL oil. Green energy ONLY.

    Whilst I knew that wind was a problem, the rolling blackouts and shear immensity of the economic damage caused by power outages hadn’t really struck home until this disaster.

    Whilst the lives lost are clearly the biggest disaster, the next worst appears to be the loss of electricity! Simply not having the power to turn the wheels of the economy is far more damaging than I could ever have imagined. It’s almost a pro-rata reduction in size of the economy – a loss of economic activity which simply cannot ever be replaced.

    It will be the same when we’ve gone so far into the mire of wind power that it won’t take an earthquake, just a high pressure sitting over us for a few days and the country will come to a standstill. It’s already making my blood boil that conceivably we could have the same economic disaster looming – not because of some “act of god”, but because of some damned stupid act of moronic politicians!

  252. AndyW35 says:

    kbray, although at first glance dropping something cold and not containing H on it seems a better idea I think there could be some pitfalls

    1. It probably doesn’t have as much capacity to absorb energy as well as water
    2. Because of the above you would need an awful lot of it. They seem to be having enough trouble with lots of sea water right next to the plant.
    3. You would make a lot of pressure that has to be controlled.

    I’m sure more scientific nuclear people on here can add more meat to my thoughts.
    Andy

  253. Scottish Sceptic says:
    Whilst I knew that wind was a problem, the rolling blackouts and shear immensity of the economic damage caused by power outages hadn’t really struck home until this disaster.

    Whilst the lives lost are clearly the biggest disaster, the next worst appears to be the loss of electricity! Simply not having the power to turn the wheels of the economy is far more damaging than I could ever have imagined. It’s almost a pro-rata reduction in size of the economy – a loss of economic activity which simply cannot ever be replaced.

    I seem to recall reading a book where pretty much exactly that happened. I think it was by some Russian woman.

    Sadly, I fear that’s about what it will take to get some sense back into things.

  254. anorak2 says:

    TonyG (formerly just Tony) says:
    March 15, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Shut down ALL nuclear. Shut down ALL coal. Shut down ALL oil. Green energy ONLY. That’s what they want, isn’t it? So let them have it.

    I suspect it won’t last very long.

    Even if that were so, it would result in a social and economical disaster we’d all have to clean up for decades to come, and I’d rather not have to.

  255. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    New site, no hype:
    http://mitnse.com/

    Information about the incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants in Japan hosted by http://web.mit.edu/nse/ :: Maintained by the students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT

    Read this:
    Modified version of original post written by Josef Oehmen
    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/13/why-i-am-not-worried-about-japans-nuclear-reactors/

    This post originally appeared on Morgsatlarge. It has been migrated to this location which is hosted and maintained by the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Members of the NSE community have edited the original post and will be monitoring and posting comments, updates, and new information. Please visit to learn more.
    ***Note that the title of the original blog does not reflect the views of the authors of the site. The authors have been monitoring the situation, and are presenting facts on the situation as they develop. The original article was adopted as the authors believed it provided a good starting point to provide a summary background on the events at the Fukushima plant.***

    Original post was “Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors” by Dr Josef Oehmen.

    Very good review of the design of the plants and what has happened them, with updates.

  256. anorak2 says:
    Even if that were so, it would result in a social and economical disaster we’d all have to clean up for decades to come, and I’d rather not have to.

    Leave it to the grandkids, then?
    I’d say we’re already seeing some of the results of going the slow route. The problem is, by the time enough people are aware, it may be too late. At least my way, people see the end result NOW, instead of 50 years from now.

  257. Vince Causey says:

    Peter Taylor,

    Thank you for that very candid feedback. I am sure you are correct that there was much that was wrong with the attitude of early generations of nuclear management towards the environment and a criminal disregard for the safety of the public. Such attitudes were endemic across industry in general. I recall a tv documentary about the senior management of a car manufacturer. They had covered up data that showed a particular car had a design flaw that caused it to catch fire if involved in certain types of collisions.

    I do believe, however, that things have moved on tremendously since those days. Social responsibility is one of the factors corporations are expected to address in PEST analysis (Politics, Economics, Social and Technology). Today, requirements and expectations on new nuclear projects are much higher. The pendulum has swung from an arrogant and cavalier attitude towards safety, towards one of great trepidation and cautiousness. I do believe that there is no realistic alternative to some form of nuclear, although I would prefer it to be thorium based. Hopefully these concerns will push more effort in that direction.

  258. Richard Sharpe says:

    There are suggestions that GE knew of design flaws in the Mark 1 reactor design in ’75:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fukushima-mark-nuclear-reactor-design-caused-ge-scientist/story?id=13141287

    Perhaps the President will have to go all postal on GE because there could be too much shit being flung at GE.

  259. JasonS says:

    Drudge is running the Kyodo News story that says Japan is no longer a 4 and should now be labeled a 6 (on the 1-7) scale, with the real possibility of hitting 7. Is there any reason to disbelieve this? Also, with 3 reactors, would a 7 make this worse than Chernobyl?

    I’m not saying I know either way. I’m just curious what the balanced news is here. Should I buy iodide like the surgeon general is saying (living in California).

  260. Alexander Harvey says:

    Hi Wondering Aloud,

    “Alexander my question on your argument is why? When and how the dose is delivered is what is important. The source of the dose is not. You are not safer or less safe because the dose comes from fallout or background nor because it is from fission or fusion or activated nuclei.”

    The original postings ran along the lines that the was no long term porblem in Hiroshima, which is the case. There was also very little short term problem in Hiroshima, the radiation produced decayed very rapidly.

    They need to determine whether there was a significant hazard at the devasted cities, particularly Nagasaki as its port was need, about 6 weeks after detonation they surveyed the cities and determined the threat level. Meanwhile experiments were undertaken to determine the nature of the threat in terms of remaining isotopes. It was determined that all but two of the produced isotopes had already decayed and presented no threat. Of the other two, one had a half-life of ~5 years the other ~1 year. This is a reason why the site returned to normal levels rapidly and why it was deemed to be save to use the Nagasaki port facilities.

    This is quite different to the case where there has been heavy contamination with either bomb fallout or the Chernobyl case.

    In the case of Nagasaki, the situation was reassonably safe within weeks and save to a degree that has neither occurred around Chernobyl as yet or for a long time to come.

    It would seem reasonable to associate massive local contamination with the Nagasaki bomb but this was not the case. Many people were irradiated at the time of the detonation and doubtlessly in the immediate aftermath, but the problem was transient in a way that the Chernobyl incident was not. The nature of the health hazards are very different between the two cases, and as you rightly say how much and when is important, these profiles differ starkly between the two cases hence it is unsafe to argue using a “Well Nagasaki/Hiroshima are thriving” line when discussing fallout from a reactor core.

    FWIW I believe that Hiroshima was not considered such a priority as the harbour area was heavily mined.

    Alex

  261. Kyle Anders says:

    It’s not the # of people who died, it’s the impact these accidents have on the overall well-being and quality of life of people on the macro-scale. Chernobyl affected everyone, the plumes went global and we were all exposed to the stuff to some degree. Did we all die?? No!! Might it have had detrimental impacts on our immunity system and all the other myriad complicated tasks are body does. Very easily! IT is simply not wise to assume that just because a single event doesn’t KILL someone immediately (or even directly give them cancer in a few years) that there’s nothing to be concerned about. I know it’s in vogue on this blog to bash tree huggers and all those who believe the in the urgency of global warming, but all that aside, there are definitely some tell tale signs that we really do need to strike more of a balance with nature in the way we live. Time to open your ears and eyes, turn on your brain. Stop telling to yourself that power from fossil fuels and nuclear is just fine and dandy, and anyone who says otherwise is an alarmist sheesh!

  262. Hu McCulloch says:

    Mike —
    Can you do an article on the Thorium reactors you mention in the article? How are these different and why are they safer? What is their status?
    Thanks!

  263. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Kyle Anders on March 15, 2011 at 6:05 pm:

    Time to open your ears and eyes, turn on your brain. Stop telling to yourself that power from fossil fuels and nuclear is just fine and dandy, and anyone who says otherwise is an alarmist sheesh!

    Practice what you preach. Your comment displays about as much intelligence as those saying the tsunami was caused by global warming.

    We can’t get enough energy from other energy sources. Period. Wind and solar can’t cut it. We can’t grow enough biomass. Hydroelectric sounds nice, but if you’re worried about sudden catastrophic destruction then you wouldn’t want hydroelectric dams, and if concerned about greenhouse gas emissions then you should be aware that hydroelectric dams cause significant GHG emissions, sometimes several times that of burning an equivalent amount of oil for electricity (reference, one of many).

    Fossil fuels are burned very efficiently these days. There are problems that have been identified, such as sulfurous emissions and carbon monoxide production, with remedies devised and used. But carbon dioxide has not been shown to be a problem.

    Nuclear power is different. It uses a very potent energy source. The reactors in Japan that are in trouble are of early designs, using an enriched fuel that must be restrained from producing too much energy, that generates byproducts suitable for use in atomic bombs as was desirable during the Cold War. Reactors wouldn’t be built like that these days, we know better. And even then, it took the combination of a monster earthquake and a killer tsunami to bring about this crisis. Natural disasters can take out any generator of energy. Given what they’ve gone through, considering everything together, those reactors have done admirably well.

    The problem was ultimately a lack of back-up power, due to what-proved-to-be inadequate protection of the diesel generators. We have learned from this, and will learn even more. The older reactors will be made safer, more secure. We have newer, more inherently-safer reactor designs, with built-in protection against meltdowns. We also have the proven CANDU reactor design which does not require enriched fuel, thus eliminates the greatest source of problems with traditional reactors, which can even directly burn the “spent fuel” from traditional reactors thus reducing that hazard. Indeed, we can now build, and have built, reactors where if you want to prevent a nuclear accident like a meltdown, you could just turn off the power and leave them alone, they’ll cool off just fine on their own. Seriously.

    Conflating the real yet addressable dangers of nuclear power, with the hypothetical and imagined dangers of carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels, is, frankly, stupid.

    You say: “Time to open your ears and eyes, turn on your brain.” Follow your own advice. With nuclear we have a nigh-unlimited supply of fuel. We have seen reactors from the infancy of reactor design needing a natural disaster of unimaginable proportions to bring them down, and have learned from those designs, and gotten better. We have a planet mired in misery, caused by and/or exacerbated by energy poverty. To help them the best way possible as quickly as possible, will require the burning of much more fossil fuels, or nuclear power, likely a combination of both. We here in the developed world do not have the ability to maintain our standard of living without fossil fuels, and definitely not without both fossil fuels and nuclear power. And that doesn’t mean holding on to SUV’s and plasma TV’s, but “necessities” like continuous reliable refrigeration and electricity and heating and clean water for indoor plumbing.

    If you really are so worried about fossil fuel burning that you want to stop or greatly restrict it, then you must support nuclear as a replacement. There is no other practical alternative. And, if we turn our backs on fission nuclear, how will we gain sufficient support for fusion nuclear when it arrives?

    We have a choice with nuclear. We can take our lumps, learn our lessons, and move forward with the practical knowledge we have gained into a future of nigh-limitless energy from nuclear, growing ever-safer until practically any sort of nuclear accident really is impossible. Or we can be frightened and run away to what feels safe yet won’t provide us with what we need, ever.

    China isn’t running away. Many other countries are not running away. Why should we?

  264. wayne says:

    RE: wayne says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Just heard on nhk-world-tv that power and pumps are back on to all four reactors located on the Pacific beach, temperatures are now down, all hydrogen fires out, and if this ends up being all….

    In relation to:

    AndyW35: March 15, 2011 at 12:59 am
    roger samson: March 15, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Thank you fellows so much for taking my words totally out of context. It was said based on the news of that moment that was passing in the media. And if that would have been the end of it, I stand by those words.

    And AndyW35, I would gladly go to join them. I have friends and the relatives of close neighbors in Japan and we have been talking on the feasibility of getting flights into Japan at this moment. Passports are a problem and we might just end up in the way with language barriers to consider. I have worn radiation badges, worked by particles counters spinning so fast the last nine digits are but a blur. I do heed radiation when it is a real threat, absolutely. It is what the media is not telling everyone that ticks me. The fact it disperses at the inverse of distance squared. If you also include height, cubed, though that should not be included. At 20km it is generally 1/400th what it is one kilometer from the plant. And they were correct to back everyone up for safety.

    But as you now know things are not turning out as those early reports that were released, and my thoughts and prayers are with all of the Japanese people, especially those at the plant fighting the battle to bring everything under control. They have their hands full.

  265. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    @ kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
    March 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

    China isn’t running away. Many other countries are not running away. Why should we?
    —–
    REPLY Not so sure about China….

    UPDATED 10:11 A.M. –China’s State Council halted all new reactor construction Wednesday, pending revised safety regulations. The country also ordered a comprehensive inspection of its plants.

    http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/default.aspx

  266. Volt Aire says:

    Nuclear plants are usually specced to have about 1 core damage instance in 10 000 years of operation and the IAEA aim is to rise the latter number to 1 000 000 in the future.

    Many nuclear plants are set up in similar places as Fukushima – on the coast, in tectonic plate edges. Failing completely in the 2nd most powerful event in 10 years gives some perspective, doesn’t it? The tsunami and quake that crippled this plant were considerably smaller than the 2004 quake and its tsunami, which peaked at about 3x higher than this. This means the plant was brought to its knees by a force that was a fraction of the known worst case scenario. Claiming that this was an unimaginable occurence is thus a pretty poor explanation… no need to imagine when this already happened before, recently.

    Hopefully the message gets throught this time and results in better “imagination”.

  267. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From CRS, Dr.P.H. on March 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm:

    REPLY Not so sure about China….

    I had noticed that somewhere, right after I posted. What was announced was the minimum acceptable action in the current news climate. The Chinese government is not completely insensitive to international opinion, they felt compelled to do something.

    I well remember the outrage, both international and within China, over their great Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric project. It still continues, and not just for the heavy-handed way they forced the project through:
    2007, disaster in the making, China admits.
    2008, becoming a disaster.
    2010, it is an environmental disaster.

    Also, there is currently great concern about nuclear power plants and earthquakes. As read in the linked 2008 Scientific American piece, hydroelectric dams are linked to temblors, it’s called reservoir-induced seismicity. Yup, the weight of all that reservoir water causes earthquakes.

    One of the greatest fears is that the dam may trigger severe earthquakes, because the reservoir sits on two major faults: the Jiuwanxi and the Zigui–Badong. According to Fan, changing the water level strains them. “When you alter the fault line’s mechanical state,” he says, “it can cause fault activity to intensify and induce earthquakes.”

    The Chinese government is also sensitive to criticisms about their GHG emissions, it was one of the reason they pushed through Three Gorges Dam. As I mentioned above, hydroelectric dams cause significant GHG emissions, may even be worse than burning fossil fuels.

    They’ve been dabbling in wind and solar, and I can well believe that’s mainly to perfect the technology they’ll be selling to gullible nations. As countless manufacturers have discovered, first you build something in China, then they build it instead of you, undercut your prices, and steal away the market.

    So, China needs energy. Their major choices are down to nuclear and coal. They’re catching flak over their coal plants. Thus, China will be pursuing nuclear.

    They had to announce a review. Then they will announce everything is fine and continue as they have been doing, as is expected with China.

  268. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From Volt Aire on March 17, 2011 at 1:45 am

    The tsunami and quake that crippled this plant were considerably smaller than the 2004 quake and its tsunami, which peaked at about 3x higher than this.

    The 2004 Chūetsu earthquake?

    The Chūetsu Earthquakes (中越地震, Chūetsu jishin?) occurred at 5:56 p.m.(local time) on Saturday, October 23, 2004 (0856 UT, same day). The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has named it the Heisei 16 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake (平成16年新潟県中越地震) (Romaji: Heisei ju-roku nen Niigata-ken Chuetsu Jishin) or The Mid Niigata Prefecture Earthquake of 2004. Niigata Prefecture is located in the Hokuriku region of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. The initial earthquake caused noticeable shaking across almost half of Honshū, including parts of the Tohoku, Hokuriku, Chūbu, and Kantō regions.

    Bold added:

    The first quake struck the Chuetsu area of Niigata Prefecture, Japan with a reading of 7 on the Japanese shindo scale at Kawaguchi, Niigata. On the Richter scale, the moment magnitude of the earthquake is estimated at 6.9. (For comparison, the Great Hanshin earthquake, which devastated much of Kobe, measured 7 on the shindo scale, with a magnitude of 7.2.) The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15.8 km. The JMA gave the coordinates of the earthquake as 37°18′N 138°48′E / 37.3°N 138.8°E / 37.3; 138.8Coordinates: 37°18′N 138°48′E / 37.3°N 138.8°E / 37.3; 138.8.

    A second earthquake occurred at 6:12 p.m. (16 minutes after the first). This one, at a much shallower depth, also caused a shindo of 6+ and had a magnitude of 5.9. A third, at 6:34, had a shindo of 6−. At 7:46, another shindo 6− earthquake occurred. Intervening and subsequent earthquakes of lesser intensity also shook the region. During the first 66 hours, 15 earthquakes with intensities of shindo 5− or higher rocked the Chuetsu region.

    No tsunami in mentioned as having arisen from this earthquake.

    The big 2004 combination was the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of December 26. As a matter of debate, it was between 9.0 and 9.3 in magnitude. Such earthquakes are exceedingly rare:

    Since 1900 the only earthquakes recorded with a greater magnitude were the 1960 Great Chilean Earthquake (magnitude 9.5) and the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Prince William Sound (9.2). The only other recorded earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater were off Kamchatka, Russia, on November 4, 1952 (magnitude 9.0)[14] and Tōhoku, Japan (magnitude 9.0) on March 11, 2011. Each of these megathrust earthquakes also spawned tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, but the death toll from these was significantly lower. The worst of these caused only a few thousand deaths, primarily because of the lower population density along the coasts near affected areas and the much greater distances to more populated coasts.

    Other very large megathrust earthquakes occurred in 1868 (Peru, Nazca Plate and South American Plate); 1827 (Colombia, Nazca Plate and South American Plate); 1812 (Venezuela, Caribbean Plate and South American Plate) and 1700 (western North America, Juan de Fuca Plate and North American Plate). All of them are believed to be greater than magnitude 9, but no accurate measurements were available at the time.

    For Japan, the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami were unimaginable. No earthquake that strong had struck Japan within living memory. Such earthquakes are exceedingly rare, and the big Indian Ocean one had just occurred in 2004, which was over 30 years after the troubled reactors were planned.

    This means the plant was brought to its knees by a force that was a fraction of the known worst case scenario.

    No. This was an exceptionally rare and unexpectedly powerful earthquake, whose energy was released very close to Japan, in a way that yielded a powerful tsunami (not all sub-sea earthquakes cause tsunamis, and they can be rather weak ones). For Japan this exceeded the known worst case scenario, especially when the reactors were planned and built.

    But now that they know by experience how bad it can get, they will do better.

  269. Poptech says:

    Official Chernobyl Death Toll:

    UNSCEAR 2006 Report Summary (PDF) (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation)

    28 – Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS)
    2 – Injuries Suffered at Unit 4 Unrelated to Radiation
    1 – Coronary Thrombosis
    19 – Various Causes Between 1987–2004 Not Attributable to Radiation
    15 – Thyroid Cancer *
    ————————-
    65 – Total

    * Increased thyroid cancer screening and better reporting rather than radiation exposure cannot be ruled out as the cause of some if not all cases.

  270. Volt Aire says:

    @ Poptech:
    Did you even bother to read the document you posted? Pages 7-8:

    “It is impossible to assess reliably, with any precision, numbers of fatal cancers caused
    by radiation exposure due to the Chernobyl accident — or indeed the impact of the
    stress and anxiety induced by the accident and the response to it. Small differences in
    the assumptions concerning radiation risks can lead to large differences in the predicted health consequences, which are therefore highly uncertain. An international expert group has made projections to provide a rough estimate of the possible health impacts of the accident and to help plan the future allocation of public health resources. The projections indicate that, among the most exposed populations (liquidators, evacuees and residents of the so-called ‘strict control zones’), total cancer mortality might increase by up to a few per cent owing to Chernobyl related radiation exposure. Such an increase could mean eventually up to several thousand fatal cancers in addition to perhaps one hundred thousand cancer deaths expected in these populations from all other causes.”

    Those thousands of deaths do not include a projection of the added cancers in the fallout zones outside the “strict zones” described above. These other areas are the geographical marjority of affected areas and cover over 100 000 000 people. An additional cancer rate of even promilles has a very huge impact for the death toll, even if it is impossible to figure out which cases were caused by this radiation. Cesium-137 has a halflife of about 30 years so we still have a bit over half of the radiation left where I live. There are still big differences in radiation depending on where the rains fell after Chernobyl and the background radiation is in many places 10 times over the average value.

    @ kadaka
    In the 1923 quake 10m tsunami height was recorded a few hundred kilometers form Fukushima. That was a tsunami high enough to cripple Fukushimas diesels so they were not prepared for even a scale 8 quakes tsunami. After that there have been several instances of over 9 scale events globally. Even though Japan has not been hit by a 9 magnitude quake in the recent past, there should have been NO reason whatsoever to assume those events only happen to other countries.

    It is an insult to anybodys intelligence to claim that they had no idea about this kind of disasters. They were plain and simple looking at the odds and figuring quarterly winnings were more important than investing in security.They were betting that it wouldn’t happen. Heck, just look where the backup diesels were located… closest structures to the sea, lowest level. 6 years after the indian ocean tsunami.

  271. Poptech says:

    Yes I read the document which says,

    there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers
    or leukaemia due to radiation in the most affected populations

    Those “thousands of deaths” have not happened and are projections based on assumptions and not empirical evidence.

    It goes on to say,

    The number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl accident has been of paramount interest to the general public, scientists, the mass media, and politicians. Claims have been made that tens or even hundreds of thousands of persons have died as a result of the accident. These claims are highly exaggerated. Confusion about the impact of Chernobyl on mortality has arisen owing to the fact that, in the years since 1986, thousands of emergency and recovery operation workers as well as people who lived in ‘contaminated’ territories have died of diverse natural causes that are not attributable to radiation. However, widespread expectations of ill health and a tendency to attribute all health problems to exposure to radiation have led local residents to assume that Chernobyl-related fatalities were much higher.

    The fact remains at best 65 people have died relating to Chernobyl.

  272. Hamish Grant says:

    It appears that this thread has attracted a lot of attention from the very-low-levels-of-radiation-still-cause-cancer alarmist camp. The foundation for their position & concerns is the “linear-no-threshold” theory of radiation induced cancers. Basically, this theory, which has never been proved (to the best of my professional knowledge as a chemical physicist), indicates that for a very large population of people who are exposed to even an infinitesimal radiation dose above background, there will be some induced cancers.
    The observations of general cancer rates (excluding thyroid) in the aftermath of Chernobyl tell a completely different story and point very strongly to the existence of a threshold for cancer induction which is well above background. There are many 1000s of inhabitatnts of the region who received doses well in excess of 100mSv (standard annual limit of exposure = 50mSv) but there has been to date no statistically significant increase in either mobidity & mortality due to non-thyroid cancers with comprehensive monitoring programs still in place.
    If one is willing to uncritically accept the dire predicitons of the UN IPCC but reject the UN official report on the Chernobyl death toll which still stands 24 years after the event, then that is irrational. I guess Walgreens will be doing a roaring trade in iodine tablets after all.

  273. Poptech says:

    The Chernobyl Disaster and How It Has Been Understood (PDF) (2010) (Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D. Ph.D. D.Sc. Former Chairman, Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Poland)

    The Chernobyl accident was probably the worst possible catastrophe of a nuclear power station. It was the only such catastrophe since the advent of nuclear power 55 years ago. It resulted in a total meltdown of the reactor core, a vast emission of radionuclides, and early deaths of 31 persons. Its enormous political, economic, social and psychological impact was mainly due to deeply rooted radiophobia induced by the linear non-threshold (LNT) assumption on radiation health effects. It was an historic event that provided invaluable lessons for nuclear industry and risk philosophy. The accident demonstrated that using the LNT assumption as a basis for protection measures and radiation dose limitations was counterproductive, and led to sufferings and pauperization of millions of inhabitants of contaminated areas. The projections of thousands of late cancer deaths based on LNT are in conflict with observations that in comparison with general population of Russia, a 15% to 30% deficit of solid cancer mortality was found among the Russian emergency workers, and a 5% deficit of solid cancer incidence among the population of most contaminated areas.

  274. RangerRick says:

    @Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:20 am

    “… Plus the fact that when an earthquake of more than about 7.5 magnitude occurs closely and at shallow depth, meltdown happens.

    Petroleum, coal and natural gas (methane) look better and better, and for the sake of a food supply, more CO2 is greatly needed.”

    Larry, what is your P.E. specialty? Are you a C.E or S.E.?

    I was going through Cal Poly, SLO’s B. Architecture program during the design and initial construction of Diablo Canyon. PG&E was ignoring the Hosgri Fault, we managed to stop All of the construction until they properly designed the containment and all of the associated equiptment – the result is capable of over twice the loading of that of the original design.

    Normally, when I design a structure, I use an equivalent safety factor from 1.5 to 2.0 as I do not normally have full time inspection and testing of in place work… nukes are inspected constantly and have significant safety factors.

    Our concerns regarding the Diablo facility were related to associated equiptment as some of our students were actually working on the plant and had noted what appeared to be inadequately sized and installed hangers and other relatively mundane devices – but very important to maintain the overall integrity of the facility.

    I am completely baffled by the Japanese utility not having multiple electrical feeds in place as well as back up pumps – since continued cooling is so critical.

    The back-up generators could have been placed on the roof of the containment structures – or at any rate at a significantly higher elevation – I am unaware where there 22′ high tsunami wave height came from?

    I also expected Japan to have All of the construction / industry pumps, generators and equiptment available to be deployed by Saturday to the site – just now bringing the pumps – sounds like a leadership issue?

    BTW-all of my structures took the Loma Prieta (World Series) earthquake in 1989 in stride – where there were significant issues with projects done by other engineers and architects.

    I continue to advocate for Passive Solar Design and Retrofits as a means to reduce the building sectors energy load by about 50% – before resorting to active solar, wind or other systems requiring subsidies to be actualized.

  275. Volt Aire says:

    @poptech

    The papers you cite paint a very diferent picture to that claim of yours. I consider both very good and suggest everyone read them through with care. They go on about widespread cancer problems in several occasions with valid reasons why the exact number of fatalities can never been known.

    @ hamish
    Do you agree that radiation causes cancers?
    If you agree, what is the method by which it does that?
    Maybe by damaging genes within cells and thus sometimes causing mutations, as the current theory goes? Or is there a different mechanism which requires a certain amount of radiation to cause the single gene mutation in the single cell?

    The current view is that any single mutation is a potential starting point. It only takes one unfortunate “hit” to cause. This leads to acceptance that there is no lower limit, no safe radiation as long as it can penetrate a cell. The more there is, the more there are going to be cancers. To dispute that you would have to find a new method of causation or deny that radiation causes cancers at all.

  276. Poptech says:

    Volt Aire, “The papers you cite paint a very diferent picture to that claim of yours. I consider both very good and suggest everyone read them through with care. They go on about widespread cancer problems in several occasions with valid reasons why the exact number of fatalities can never been known.

    No they state exactly what I claim and specifically show that the case has not been made for increased cancer fatalities due to radiation as you claim. The empirical evidence does not exist to support your conclusions and the numbers I gave are the only hard numbers available. The first report I mentioned explicitly states,

    “there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the most affected populations

    and,

    The number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl accident has been of paramount interest to the general public, scientists, the mass media, and politicians. Claims have been made that tens or even hundreds of thousands of persons have died as a result of the accident. These claims are highly exaggerated. Confusion about the impact of Chernobyl on mortality has arisen owing to the fact that, in the years since 1986, thousands of emergency and recovery operation workers as well as people who lived in ‘contaminated’ territories have died of diverse natural causes that are not attributable to radiation. However, widespread expectations of ill health and a tendency to attribute all health problems to exposure to radiation have led local residents to assume that Chernobyl-related fatalities were much higher.

    The second says,

    This Chernobyl disaster provided many invaluable lessons. One of them is a recognition of the absurdity of LNT which assumes that even near zero radiation dosage can lead to cancer death and hereditary disorders. Chernobyl was the worst possible nuclear power catastrophe. It happened in a dangerously constructed nuclear power reactor with a total meltdown of the core and ten days of free emission of radionuclides into the atmosphere. Probably nothing worse could happen. Yet the resulting human death toll was small, compared with major accidents involving other energy sources.

    It does not get anymore clear than that.

  277. Volt Aire says:

    @ poptech

    Yes, hard numbers are impossible to get, this we seem to agree on. This is why the reports you posted both give expert opinions about likely effects and additional mortality and sickness percentages with remarks about impossibility of statistical analysis due to a multitude of control problems. The reports claim that there is an increase in cancers, maybe some percentages above normal occurence.

    Radiation is a known source of cancers, amongst other causes. What evidence is there that additional radiation would not cause additional cancers when N is large enough? That would be a nobel find…

  278. Poptech says:

    Any of the increases in cancer have not been empirically proven to be the result of radiation exposure. The only ones that likely are related to the Thyroid cases of which they has only been 15 deaths. The rest is unsubstantiated.

  279. Volt Aire says:

    That is true. As radiations connection to cancers has been proven beyond any doubt and over a hundred million people will live with the fallout for decades to come it is clear that 65 is not the actual death count. I would so very much like you to be correct in this but the mathematics of the scenario unfortunately tell a different story.

    This is why the original post is in extremely bad taste, trying to make Chernobyls effect look like it is comparable to a bus accident. For any single person, the risk to get cancer from the fallout is minimal, that is granted. Still it is logically dishonest to claim a population of 100 million will not rack up deaths from the incident.

    If you disagree I suppose we will not find common ground in this. Hopefully Japan will not settle this matter for us in the coming decades.

  280. Poptech says:

    My original post is accurate (65) and there is no empirical or scientific evidence of any more deaths that can be linked to radiation exposure from the Chernobyl accident. How many millions of people who received a low dose of radiation due to the Chernobyl accident is irrelevant to the instances of cancer that can be linked to radiation exposure let alone deaths from said cancer.

    What is logically dishonest is to argue a position there is no evidence for. You wanting more people to have received cancer and died from the accident does not make it true.

  281. Volt Aire says:

    @poptech
    Did Chernobyl cause an increase in radiation?
    Does radiation cause cancer?

    I suppose one of these questions is a “no” to you?

    http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/radiation_protection/doc/publication/125.pdf

    “a recent analysis of the Japanese A-bomb data that showed a raised cancer risk for doses between 0 and 100 mSv, with an upper confidence limit for a dose threshold of 60 mSv. It was emphasised in the discussion that this does not mean that the data support a threshold of this magnitude, but rather that the data cannot exclude this possibility. In contrast, higher values for any threshold are inconsistent with the A-bomb data. This represents an advance from earlier assessments based on this study, which could not exclude values for a threshold below 100 mSv. Furthermore, the latest Japanese A-bomb data are consistent with a linear no-threshold hypothesis for cancer risks at low doses.

    Any your claim that I want there to be more deaths, reread my previous comment with care. It is pretty simply put there what I would like to have happened.

  282. Hamish Grant says:

    @ Volt Aire
    If radiation at low doses always caused cancer, then radiotherapy to treat/cure cancer would never have developed into the life saving procedure that it has been proved to be – i.e. new cancers would always appear in the surrounding healthy tissue that inevitably receive a lower but still significant collateral dose.
    If a single gene mutation or DNA strand disruption was sufficient for cancer induction, then the human race would never have evolved. The body’s natural repair system has been shown in many studies to be quite capable of mopping up damaged genetic material & the LNT theory remains unproven. The popluation of several small mammal sepcies living in the exclusion zone at Chernobyl have been studied and found to be in robust good health – in fact there has been a postulation (contentious, naturally) that low level readiaiton exposure may actually “harden” the DNA and help protect it from damage in a continuously higher radiation background environment.

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